A new £25m church described as being the largest investment of its kind in the UK has been given the green light by Mansfield planners.
The International Church based in Mansfield Woodhouse has been given planning permission to build a new 3,000-seater auditorium on the former Metal Box site at Mansfield’s Rock Valley.
Formerly known as Bethel Church, they originally had plans to build a 1,200-seater church in Mansfield Woodhouse , but withdrew the application before switching their attention to Rock Valley, just off St Peter’s Way.
By more than doubling the size for the latest application, it would include a four-storey contemporary building covering 7,795 sq metres, complete with 335 car parking spaces.
All decaying buildings on the site would be demolished, apart from the iconic bell tower, which the applicant says would be refurbished once funds became available.
The site has been vacant for a number of years.
Pastor to the church, John Hibbert said: “Our Rock Valley project will not only provide much-needed amenities so we can continue our work but will bring vital regeneration.
“We will turn Rock Valley into the most beautiful setting for any church complex in the United Kingdom.”
No external objections were received, but Coun Christine Smith felt the land would be better suited for employment or housing.
She said: “The young people need jobs and especially close to there they live. While Mansfield is short of employment, it is not short of empty churches.”
But Coun Brian Lohan said: “Since Metal box closed the site has got worse and more derelict and run down.
“For God’s sake, let’s have something on it. ”
Coun Vaughan Hopewell also added: “We have to realise that times are changing and town centre factories will not come again. It’s a rather ambitious plan and I hope it can be delivered.”
Eight of the nine planning committee members voted in favour of the application,
Mr Hibbert previously told Chad that fundraising for the church has been ongoing and they were hopeful businesses.
He hopes it will be open by the summer of 2017.