Former Westgate church could be demolished to make way for offices and flats

St Peter’s Church and Presbytery in Westgate

A former church in Westgate will be demolished to make way for a new build office space and flats if planning permission is granted.

The St Peter’s Church and Presbytery will be flattened and replaced with  766.9sqm of commercial office use for a new headquarters for Miles and Barr Estate Agents (ground floor) and an additional 21 one and two-bed apartments on the first, second and third floors, with associated parking, access and landscaping.

The church, on Canterbury Road, was constructed in 1963, first opening in 1964. It has a nave and Lady Chapel with sacristy room sited on either side of the nave, and baptism and repository areas each side of the main entrance.

The final Sunday Mass at the building before closure was in July 2014 and since then the building has remained  empty.

The decision to close the church was made because the cost of repairing and maintaining it was not considered economically viable.

The church had capacity for up to 400 parishioners but in the preceding years before closure, numbers had dropped to around 60-65 per week.

The Benedictines owned the site and when they moved from St. Augustine’s Abbey, Ramsgate to Chilworth, Guildford in Surrey, the Diocese of Southwark ran the church.

The Benedictives made the final decision to dispose of the church and its grounds.

The  proposed new four-storey building will have 54 parking spaces, landscaping and cycle storage. It is proposed to include 30% affordable housing.

A proposal previously approved in June 2018 provided for office use on the ground floor of the existing church building, with a boardroom on mezzanine above, in the vaulted void.

But the planning application now lodged says: “Following further investigation of the costs of conversion and the limitations on the floorspace layout operationally for the end user Miles and Barr, the benefits of a new purpose a revised proposal for a purpose built office in terms of energy consumption and running costs and preferred layout for optimum working practices were identified.”

Permission would mean Miles and Barr could relocate from its current rented premises at Discovery Park in Sandwich.

A decision on the application has not yet been made.