Demolition threat to former Gurdwara and Congregational Church in Gravesend

12 April 2017

Demolition threat to former Gurdwara and Congregational Church in Gravesend

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has strongly reiterated our objections to the proposed demolition of the former Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Gravesend, formerly the Milton Congregational Church.

The application, originally submitted in 2014, proposes to demolish a locally listed building for replacement with a housing development, and is due to be considered at a council meeting today, on 12 April 2017. Despite local and national objections, the planning officer is recommending approval. Historic England have written with concerns that the planning officer's report dismisses the significance of the building too lightly.

The former Gurdwara/church falls within the Windmill Conservation Area and is noted as being a building of local interest. Built in 1872 by the noted architect Sir John Sulman, it is in Gothic style and makes a clear positive contribution to the Conservation Area.

SAVE believes it is capable of reuse, and we understand local campaigners are working with an architect and a heritage consultant to find alternative uses for the building. It is crucial that the campaigners are given time and support to develop their plans for reuse, and our letter to the planning committee requests the application is refused to allow this to happen.

SAVE’s Deputy Director Mike Fox said: “We are very concerned to find Gravesham Borough Council recommending demolition of this handsome building. Local authorities all over Britain are celebrating their unique historic areas as part of the 50th anniversary of the creation of Conservation Area legislation. Gravesham is doing the opposite, recommending approval to demolish good quality and architecturally interesting buildings in the Windmill Conservation Area.

“We believe alternative and beneficial uses can be found for the former temple, and we are calling upon the planning committee to refuse this application and work with local residents who want the building retained.”

Notes to editors:

1. An application to demolish the building was first submitted in 2009, and approved by Gravesham Borough Council. SAVE judicially reviewed the council’s decision, who conceded that proper procedure had not been followed, and the planning approval was quashed. SAVE's 2009 press release can be seen here. A second application was submitted in 2014, but this application has remained undetermined whilst a marketing exercise was carried out.

2. The Planning officer’s report states that the property has been marketed at a price, ‘significantly higher than the land value stated by both the applicant’s appointed surveyor and Gravesham appointed surveyor.’ (Planning officer’s report, March 2017).

3. The Gurdwara was originally built as a congregational church in 1872 to the designs of Sir John Sulman (1849-1934), who built over 70 other churches in this country. However, he is best known for his work in Australia, where he became a leading architect and an important figure in the field of town planning. He designed a number of civic and institutional buildings including the Civic Centre buildings in Canberra, and is credited with playing an important role in the development of Australia’s cultural identity.

4. For more information please contact Mike Fox, Deputy Director at SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or

5. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage
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