A CHURCH’S bid to extend its community building to provide a place of communal worship was rejected over a lack of parking, despite being within a  seven-minute walk of nearly 400 public parking spaces.

Wallyford Livingroom Church was refused planning permission to extend its property after East Lothian Council officials insisted the plans required it to have 10 parking spaces – eight more than it had on site.

The decision came despite the church telling planners it had an informal agreement, which had been in place for nearly a decade, to use a neighbouring car park which offered 28 spaces and was a short walk from two large public car parks, which had hundreds of spaces.

Now the Livingroom Church, which is described as an independent Evangelical church, is appealing the decision after the council refused to give the extension the go-ahead unless its neighbours, Wallyford Miners Welfare and Social Club, signed a formal agreement allowing the church to use its car park in “perpetuity”.

In an appeal statement to East Lothian Council’s Local Review Body, the church said: “The roads officer requires the stipulated eight spaces to be ‘secured and controlled to ensure that the car parking would remain available in perpetuity’.

“Wallyford Miners Welfare and Social Club is owned by and regulated by the membership through its office holders and they have made clear that they would not contemplate such a legal agreement tying down the club in perpetuity.

“They have been generous hosts to the church for nearly 10 years on a friendly but informal basis, but a formal legal agreement, albeit for limited car parking only, is an entirely different and unreasonable imposition.”

The church is based in what was the former Mine Superintendent’s cottage on Salters Road, built in the early 1900s to serve nearby coal mines.

It was bought in 1980 to be used as a Mission Hall and is home to the Livingroom Church, which builds on the work of the old Wallyford Mission, which stretches back to the 1920s in the village.

The plan to extend the building to the rear to create a community-sized worship area and communal facility would allow up to 170 people to be seated in the new main hall and provide Bible class and crèche facilities.

In its statement to the review body, the church revealed that it was currently holding Sunday worship in the new village primary school’s community hall and prior to that held it in the miners’ welfare club bar.

It said: “Worshipping in the bar of the Miners Club on a Sunday morning had its practical limitations, and after nearly 10 years of use, the church now worships in the new primary school on Futures Way.

“The church is grateful to the council for granting a short-term lease for use on Sunday mornings, but it is remote from the existing church building, and not as convenient for most of the residents of Wallyford, buses and trains, as compared to the historic site on Salters Road.”

The plans to extend the church’s own building have received the backing of the community council, which welcomed the bid to extend the church while preserving the original cottage front.

The review body will meet to decide the appeal in September.