Clergy and parishioners at St Pauls Church in Deptford fear the proposed use of the land next to the church as a construction site for the London super sewer will jeopardise their work and funding.
The major work will take more than three years if the plans are carried out at the site, which is situated between St. Pauls Church and St Joseph’s Primary School.
Residents heavily opposed the plans last week, presentating a petition with over 800 signatures to the Thames Tunnel consultation process on Saturday.
Paul Butler, rector of St. Paul’s, said he “feared the consequences” these plans would have on the church and the community.
He explained that the church lies at the heart of Deptford, which is a vibrant area with a diverse ethnic communities, but also has some of London’s highest unemployment, poverty and crime rates.
He said that, a “noisy and smelly construction site” would devastate some of the positive things in the area: a quiet churchyard, a peaceful green, the daily morning prayer and the low masses.
Sue Hitchen, director of music at St. Paul’s said the Deptford church is not only a place for prayer and worship, but also a place where people find “peace and support” on a daily basis.
She said: “All the trouble that comes with the construction work will be a catastrophe for the local community.”
Butler said that another great concern was the fact that the church risked losing their funding if Thames Water carry out its plans. At present the church get financial support from musicians who use it to record music.
“How are we supposed to pay our bills?” said Butler, adding that no one will come and record music next to the noise of 24 vehicles.
Phil Stride, head of Tideway Tunnel, company set up by Thames Water to contruct the sewer said the church could make a claim of loss of earnings and get proper compensation if there were financial losses. How the economic loss would be calculated is still not clear.
Stride also said that Tideway Tunnels would cause as little disturbance to the church and the primary school as possible, and pointed out that the work on the site would follow “normal working hours” and noise, dust and smell would be at a minimum.
At present Tideway Tunnels are undergoing phase two consultation of the project, which will last for 14 weeks. The final decision will be made on February 10.
In the meantime, campaigners from ‘Don’t Dump On Deptford’s Heart’ keep on working against the proposed plans, saying they are “determined to save this public green and Deptford’s town centre”.