Holy Island residents concerned about the possibility of a religious ‘takeover’ of the island are objecting to plans for a new chapel.
Residents aired their worries at a meeting held in the village on Monday, when a planning application submitted to Northumberland County Council by religious retreat The Open Gate, to build a new chapel in the village, were discussed.
A particular concern was of the possibility of a religious ‘takeover’.
Island resident Roger Andrews said: “As there are already three well-established religious churches/chapels in the village the local residents can not understand the need for another.
“Many locals voiced concern about the careful balance that needs to be maintained between the village community which is a secular community, and the growing presence of new religious organisations on Holy Island.”
He added: “The current diversity of Holy Island is what makes it so special.”
Revd Graham Booth, a governor of the ecumenical Community of Aidan and Hilda, whose Mother House is The Open Gate, said the island had been ‘holy’ since the 7th century. However, it was pointed out that for the past few hundred years it has been a fishing community and, as in other villages along the Northumberland Coast, most still feel they are part of a fishing fraternity.
Revd Booth stated that the chapel would be used as a private chapel and insisted there was no intention to request planning permission for change of use to a place of public worship.
Other concerns raised included parking in the village, but in a letter addressing objections Revd Booth said there would be no significant reduction in parking available at the Open Gate.