District planners have decided to see for themselves the site of a proposed new church, which neighbours say will be ‘a blight on the landscape’.

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Brixington Community Church has applied for planning permission to demolish its existing building in Churchill Road and replace it with a two-storey structure, which would combine a worship area with community facilities.

The church says the new build is needed to meet the demands of its growing congregation, and for it to extend its community road. However, neighbours in Ellwood Road say the design would dwarf their properties.

Speaking for the church at this week’s East Devon District Council (EDDC) development management committee meeting, Andrew Saxton said: “The church has become an integral part of the community of Brixington, with over 550 people using the building a week. Church attendance has grown and we often reach capacity.”

Doreen Gray of Ellwood Road said: “The building will be a blight on the landscape, and out of keeping with the surrounding area.”

Fellow Ellwood Road resident Steve Driver said: “We will have a view of a brick wall, 46 metres long and 5.8 metres high, albeit somewhat buried in the ground, but I think it’s a considerable loss of amenity, because of the open space [we will lose].”

Exmouth Town Council has also opposed the plan, saying it would be overbearing and out of character, but EDDC’s planning officers have recommended approval.

Councillors had been due to rule on planning permission at the meeting, but decided to adjourn their decision to visit the site and weigh up the issues for themselves.

Councillor Vivien Duval-Steer said: “I’m between the devil and the deep blue sea with this, because the benefits the church brings to the community are great, so I can understand why they need bigger premises, but I feel at the moment the mass and scaling of this [are an issue].”

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