A Catholic church in Tiverton has denied claims that bells installed as part of a new development will disrupt the local neighbourhood.
The Times reported that the expansion of St James Church, Tiverton, would include ‘a spire and a belfry housing two bells.’ Local resident Gary Banfield said that the bells would affect the neighbourhood, adding that he is ‘not sure that Bells as a call to prayer are suitable on a residential road.’ Les Cruwys, a Liberal Democrat councillor and chairman of the planning committee, said: “Bells are not there to call people to the service anymore. People come from further afield and will not hear the bells anyway.”
“I cannot agree with the officer’s recommendation to support this, unless it’s minus the bells.”
Responding to the criticism, the Diocese of Plymouth told the Universe: “The addition of a bellcote and spire shall help identify the building as a Church. Something which is desperately needed. There is no belfry or bell tower as it has been reported.”
The bells will ring six times a week for 15 minutes before each service. Planning permission was granted on condition that the bells ‘shall only be rung at times when services are taking place.’ Planning officers for the new development also equated the sounds from the bells to “light traffic noise”.
A Planning Application document confirmed that there were not ‘any concerns’ with the new development with regard to bells.
“Mid Devon’s Public Health officer does not anticipate any concerns in relation to the installation of a single bell. Bells have been used on churches for many years in order to announce services. They are only used for very short periods and therefore the officer has no concerns regarding this,” the document said.
Liberal Democrat councillor Rachel Gilmour supported the plans. “If the Catholic church wants to extend this one in Tiverton and stick a belfry on top, then that’s fine with me,” she said.