A RARE garden in Hindpool has been saved from development after plans for housing were knocked back by councillors.

The area, bounded by Hartington Street, Anson Street, and Keyes Street, is part of the grounds of Hartington Street Methodist Church.

The church hoped to win outline planning permission for five affordable terraced houses in order to sell the land to fund a major church refurbishment.

The applicants stated the garden was neglected and not used as originally planned.

During a 10-year lease to Barrow Council, the church said there had been poor maintenance with overgrown grass and flowerbeds ‘full of nettles’.

The area had also suffered from attracting ‘needles, beer cans, dog muck, half-eaten takeaways and broken beer bottles,’ said the applicants.

Despite efforts by the church to keep it clean, ‘neither the council or local community’ appeared to have any interest in it, they said.

But the plans drew 11 objections with residents decrying the loss of a ‘useful community’ play space in an area short on gardens.

Objectors said it was well-used and would leave children with nowhere to go.

The planning committee was told that despite the issues, the church was thriving with congregation numbers and attendances bucking the trend.

Charlie Mills, a church property steward, said it hoped to extend its vital outreach work and bring the church building up to date.

Mr Mills said: “We are not in the business of attempting to make a quick buck. The church building was built in 1874 and needs to be brought into the 21st century. If we can do that, we know we can serve the community in a much better way.”

However, council leader and planning committee member Cllr Ann Thomson said she was ‘aggrieved’ by the proposal.

“We are surrounded by so many terraced houses in Hindpool and have so little green space. I am sure your causes are very worthy but we’ve hardly got any green space and you want to come along and take it away,” said Cllr Thomson, the Labour councillor for Hindpool.

Planning officer Maureen Smith recommended the committee refuse the application as it ‘conflicted’ with policies.

Mrs Smith said the garden provided ‘visual relief in a high- density urban area’.

“It’s obviously important to local residents given the high number of objections we have received,” said Mrs Smith.

The 10-member committee voted unanimously to refuse the application.

Cllr Colin Thomson, chairman of the committee, told Mr Mills the church had a right of appeal against its decision.