UK: Controversial plans to demolish a Sikh temple and replace it with 19 flats and two houses have been given the go-ahead. Gravesham Council’s regulatory board approved developer Thamesview Living’s scheme for the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Clarence Place, Gravesend, on Wednesday. SAVE, a campaign group for preserving historic buildings, has been fighting to save the 137-year-old building and says the council will “end up being very embarrassed by the decision”.
Director William Palin said: “There are certain tests you must show you have dealt with if you want to knock a building down in a conservation area, such as first putting it on an open market and trying to find alternative use for it.
“We do not feel the council has done this, and our lawyers think there are grounds for a legal challenge to the decision.”
However, chairman of the council’s regulatory board, Councillor Harold Craske, says it took the appropriate steps before making its decision.
He said: “The committee decided that all necessary steps had been taken by the developer to try to sell the building or find alternative use.”
The regulatory board had previously permitted the demolition of the building in July, but decided to reconsider the matter after SAVE launched a legal challenge.
SAVE applied for an injunction against demolition and called for a judicial review into the council decision, but withdrew the applications after the council agreed to reconsider the matter.
It also asked English Heritage to list the temple a Grade II building, which would protect it from demolition, but was rejected.
Mr Palin says SAVE may now again apply for an injunction and call for a judicial review.
Leaders of Gravesend’s Sikh community, the Gurdwara Management Committee, are happy for Thamesview Living to demolish the temple.
Earlier this year the committee sold the building to the developer for £3.1m to raise money for the new £13m temple it is constructing in Khalsa Avenue.
General secretary Narinder Singh, 56, says it had been trying to sell the building for re-use for two years before accepting Thamesview Living’s offer.
Source: Michael Purton, News Shopper