A Chesham Bois church that called villagers “evil” has been refused permission for its plan to build a new hall.

St Leonard’s Parochial Church Council had applied to Buckinghamshire Council to knock down its church hall on Glebe Way and replace it with a “new multifunctional parish centre” to accommodate up to 275 people.

However, the application called into a council planning committee after more than 250 objections from local residents and has now been refused.

“I’m personally delighted that the application was refused,” said Conservative local ward councillor David King.

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He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “I think it is a wholly in appropriate development for Chesham Bois.”

In a bizarre twist, the large number of people objecting to the plans were smeared by Wendy Clow, the wife of the Rector of St Leonard’s Church Laurie Clow in a sermon in August.

She branded those opposing the plans “evildoers, the enemy and mutilators of the flesh” and claimed that God had commanded the congregation to rise up and “go on the offensive”.

The parochial church council told the LDRS it was “disappointed” with the council’s decision to refuse permission for a new church hall, which it said had been put forward to be “used by all” after consultation with the community.

They also said it had previously “apologised unreservedly for the offence caused to members of our community, by the sermon”.

It added: “It is common to preach messages based on the rich imagery we find in the Bible, in particular the New Testament, which often includes spiritual warfare and battle metaphors."

A previous plan put forward by St Leonard’s to redevelop the site of its existing parish centre was refused permission in January 2021, and dismissed at appeal in April 2022.

Its latest plans for the site included a cafe, day nursery building, replacement rectory with detached garage, two outbuildings to provide a prayer room and substation, and bin bike storage.

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The applicant argued that the existing parish centre – which is “coming to the end of its life” – and the main church building itself were no longer large enough to accommodate the “growing congregation” in Chesham Bois.

In its plans, the church proposed building 90 car parking spaces, one of the main sources of anger for many local residents objecting to the plans.

Among them were Dr Gordon Mousinho, who questioned the need for “such a large worship centre for such a small congregation”.

He said: “The traffic chaos and subsequent pollution will be horrendous.”

Cllr King said the huge scale of the church’s plans were one of the principal reasons that he and many villagers objected to the plans.

He told the LDRS: “It is proposed to be in the centre of a conservation area, that is right in the heart of the village.

“It is not designed for locals, it is for people from outside, it is designed as a regional conference centre.”

The councillor also questioned the motives of the ‘Jesus Ministry’ church group, which pledges to “overcome the Evil One”, and counts St Leonard’s Rector Laurie Clow among its main UK leaders.

Cllr King added: “This a full-scale commercial conference centre hiding behind the guise of a parish centre. I would say almost without exception, everyone would support a similar development to the existing parish centre in scale.

“Planning doesn’t take need into account unfortunately. This is about someone putting in a commercial development for hundreds of people to attend that they want to operate seven days a week.”