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Church conversion blocked

  The Planning Inspectorate has upheld Westminster Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to convert a church in Mayfair in central London into a spa.

Photo: Evening Standard

  An inspector has turned down an appeal by multi-millionaire George Hammer to turn the Grade I-listed building, St Mark's Church in North Audley Street, into a “wellness centre”.

  Hammer, who founded the Sanctuary in Covent Garden, was opposed by local residents including Lady Sainsbury and the local planning authority.

  The inspector, who held an inquiry earlier this year, said that although the wellness centre “would not conflict with the wording of policies seeking to retain community services, church use would have more far-reaching and inclusive benefits for the local population, visitors and workers in the area”.

  Councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader of the council, said: “My committee decided to refuse this application on the grounds that this is one of the most beautiful churches in Mayfair and we believe that a building of such architectural magnificence should be available for anyone to enjoy.”

  He added: “I believe that the restoration of this Grade I-listed building can be undertaken while it is used as a church.As such, the building will continue to benefit the wider community, and I hope that funding can be found, which will see the church continue to be used as a place of worship.”


  Roger Milne

  17 December 2009

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