PLANS to build a new vicarage in Gisburn to attract a new vicar have been refused by Ribble Valley Borough Council.

St Mary’s Church has been without a full-time vicar for almost a year and the diocese has found it increasingly difficult to appoint a new one.

The old vicarage, in Main Street, was built around 1900, but has proved too costly to maintain.

The diocese said the nature of the vicarage makes upgrading work difficult.

For the past few months, church services have been taken by retired clergy.

On refusing the application, John Heap, director of community services at the borough council, said: “The proposed development has an unduly harmful impact upon the setting and significance of the Grade II-listed church.

“The proposed development’s siting and detailed design is incongruous and conspicuous and would result in an over-dominant relationship with the existing vicarage and result in the erosion of the designed historic inter-visibility between St Mary’s Church and associated vicarage.”

Gisburn Parish Council objected to the proposal because the design was ‘out of keeping’ with the conservation area and that construction of the dwelling ‘may reduce options’ for the future of the original vicarage.