A church that branded people “evil” for opposing its plan to build a new hall has responded to planners refusing its application.

St Leonard’s Church in Chesham Bois, led by Rector Laurie Clow, has been denied permission to knock down its parish centre and replace it with a bigger one.

Buckinghamshire Council’s planning committee rejected the plans, which also included dozens of parking spaces, a café and new rectory.

St Leonard’s parochial church council said it was “disappointed” with the council’s decision and “will be taking time to consider their comments” and its “next steps”.

READ MORE: Church that called locals ‘evil’ REFUSED planning permission

In its statement to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the church refused to confirm whether or not it would appeal the decision.

It said: “It would cost almost as much to refurbish what exists on the site as to start again and provide something fit for purpose. Hence the plans to redevelop.”

The church added: “We consulted with the community and listened closely to their feedback, which resulted in the decision to significantly reduce the development in size while keeping its main community-enhancing components.”

St Leonard’s plans received objections from more than 250 people, which a member of the church referred to as “the enemy” in a sermon in August.

The church said: “At the time we apologised unreservedly for the offence caused to members of our community, by the sermon.

“The parish church has sat at the heart of the community for over 800 years, and we are called to love, bless and pray for everyone in the village.”

The spokesperson said it was “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.”

It added: “Sometimes in scripture more is said than is literally meant in order for the reader to remember it and think deeply on it.”

St Leonard’s brands itself as an ‘Anglican, Evangelical & Charismatic Church’.