A MAJOR stumbling block to appointing a new parish priest in Holbeach has been removed now South Holland councillors have approved plans for a new vicarage.
The four-bedroom home will be built in the grounds of the existing Church Walk vicarage – and the old building will be sold off for use as a private residence.
All Saints’ Church has been without a vicar since Canon John Wickstead retired in May 2011.
Plans for the new vicarage were submitted by Lincoln Diocesan Trust and Board of Finance Ltd and approved on a 10-1 vote on Wednesday night.
The trust argued the old vicarage does not comply with the Church of England’s design guide following a growing number of attacks on clergy in their own homes.
Guidelines specify the “office” part of the vicarage must be separate from the living quarters and the trust said that type of layout was not “practically achievable” in the old building.
Representatives from the diocese, including the Archdeacon of Lincoln, the Ven Tim Barker, were in the public gallery to listen to the planning committee’s debate.
After the meeting, Mr Barker said: “I am delighted that the district council’s planning committee has allowed us to build a new vicarage at Holbeach.
“We look forward to providing a suitable house for future vicars of Holbeach and appointing a priest who will lead the local parish in their mission and ministry.”
Church planning advisor Dr Robert Wickham was allowed a three-minute address before councillors considered the plans.
He said the church would sell the old vicarage but place covenants on it to restrict its use to that of a private dwelling – it would not become a house in multiple occupation or be used for business.
Holbeach councillor Francis Biggadike proposed approval of the planning application.
He said 27 conditions were attached and they should meet the concerns raised by objectors.