PLANS for a Grayshott church hall for the Plymouth Brethren have been given the green light on appeal.

Objectors to the application, rejected by East Hampshire District Council in January, protested that developments are not permitted within the Local Gap – the green space dividing Headley and Grayshott – and more than 800 people signed a protest petition.

The Brethren currently hold meetings in halls at Camelsdale, Passfield, and Liphook. The main meeting hall is in Fernhurst’s Parkway Gospel Hall, but it says the hall is now too small.

Planning inspector Hollie Nicholls agreed the change of use from a former golf driving range to a religious meeting hall, plus new access onto Headley Road and bigger car park.

She considered the proposal would maintain the distinction between the settlements without harm to the designated Local Gap.

Responding to concerns that ‘mass congregations’ would attract more traffic, the inspector judged it would be about the same as that generated by the recent nursery use and less than the former golf driving range.

She reported: “A mitigating factor in respect of the spikes of traffic is that the religious services would typically be held at times outside of the working day and over the course of the weekend. I also note that Hampshire County Council’s highway service did not raise any objection.

“I understand the community facility would be most likely to be used by a particular faith group as opposed to the community at large, however, I do not consider that this undermines its social benefits. I am also mindful it is intended to be used for storage and office space for the Rapid Relief Team which has wider social benefits.”