Presbyterians object to Elim church plan

Watson Street, Portadown. Picture by Google.
Watson Street, Portadown. Picture by Google.

Two town churches are at loggerheads over plans for the former Wades Factory at Watson Street.

Plans are afoot to demolish the former factory premises to build a new Elim Church.

However, among seven letters of objection is one from First Portadown Presbyterian Church.

Planning officials have recommended approval of the plans to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council but the matter has been deferred for a site meeting.

The plan proposes the demolition of the former industrial premises and erection of a new Church with associated facilities.

Facilities proposed include crèches, kids rooms, multi-purpose halls, meeting rooms and offices, car parking (with 244 spaces) and associated site works.

Planners have recommended the scheme for approval.

The Elim Church in Portadown first brought forward proposals in 2016, with amended proposals submitted in December 2017.

In their objection letter First Portadown Presbyterian Church, also on Watson Street, highlighted traffic issues and concerns over pedestrian safety.

The congregational secretary of First Portadown Presbyterian Church Mr NR McClelland, wrote: “We, as a church, have worshipped for almost 200 years at our present location and we would hope that the planned relocation and expansion of Elim into the Edenderry will be a great opportunity to continue to expand Christ’s Kingdom.”

He pointed out: “The new larger church, with auditoriums, creches, kids’ rooms, multi-purpose hall, meeting rooms and offices will bring significant additional traffic placing demands on the poor and existing road infrastructure.

“The new traffic light system will direct this increased volume of traffic through Joseph Street into Watson Street, through junctions that were not designed for this intense volume nor were they designed for today’s large vehicles such as delivery, buses and coaches.

“As an immediate neighbour to the site of the proposed development, we are of the view that this project will have a substantial impact on the safety of pedestrians as well as the availability of safe access and parking of cars, together with delivery and refuse collection vehicles, buses and coaches.

“We have concerns regarding the proposed erection of such a large complex on the property to the side of our facility.”

The construction of the new church would incorporate various facilities on site, including crèches, children’s rooms, multi-purpose halls, meeting rooms and offices.

A spokesman for Portadown Elim had this response when the Portadown Times asked to comment on objections to the plans: “Portadown Elim are aware of the planners recommendation for the plans for our new church building in Watson St.

“We want to work ensure that our proposed development enhances the community and transforms an area that has been derelict for many years. We are proposing significant investment in this area and we await the decision of the Planning Committee.”