Councillors to rule on controversial plans for ‘mega-church’ in Zeeland village

Image: Van Beijnum Architecten

Councillors in Zeeland are deciding on Tuesday whether to approve the building of the largest Protestant church in the Netherlands, in a village with a population of 7,000.

If approved, the church in Yerseke will occupy a 3.8 hectare site with a 49-metre high tower, 353 parking spaces and room for 2,000 worshippers. Councillors from the orthodox-Protestant SGP party, which is the largest group, say the capacity is needed to accommodate the growing Dutch reformed community in the area.

The church community has already signed a provisional contract with the landowner and raised €4 million towards the cost of the building, which is estimated at €13 million.

But there is opposition to the plans from local groups, including nature conservationists, who object to the ‘colossal scale’ of the project and the likely increase in traffic. The other main Christian party in the Netherlands, the ChristenUnie, is also against building the church.

Marien Weststrate, of local party Leefbaar Reimerswaal, said: ‘A lot of people are wondering why it needs to be so big, when the evidence suggests that the reformed community in Yerseke is in decline.

‘It will be a colossal building on the edge of the Yerseke Moer nature area. That shouldn’t really be allowed.’

But SGP alderman Jaap Sinke disputed the claim that the religious community was shrinking. ‘The size is wholly down to the reformed community, which has been growing in Yerseke for many years. We have nearly 2400 members now,’ he told NOS Radio 1 Journaal.

‘Something like this will last 100 years if it’s built well,’ he added. ‘There are examples in this country of churches that have had to be renovated twice in 30 years. Here in Yerseke we’ve taken a more fundamental approach to the issue.’


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