Birch Church Planning
The planning applications for conversion of Birch church to a large five-bedroom family home were considered by Colchester Borough Council's Planning Committee at its meeting on Thursday 22nd October.
Despite strong objections from Birch Parish Council, Church bodies, local residents and other individuals with relatives buried in the churchyard, the Planning Committee voted to approve the applications: 7 in favour, 1 against, and 1 abstention.
The ball now appears to be firmly in the Church Commissioners’ court. The Commissioners can be expected to need some time to fully assess the current position and decide how best to proceed from here.
For the time being ownership of Birch church remains vested in the Chelmsford Diocesan Board of Finance (i.e. the diocese). The Church Commissioners manage the process of dealing with the closed church. No work can commence on conversion of the church until the Commissioners have drawn up a new Draft Pastoral Scheme for residential use of the building, put the draft scheme out for public consultation, considered responses to that consultation, and negotiated a sale or lease to Mr Cottee.
It looks as if we are still a long way from resolution of the future of Birch church.