Scientologists Plan £6 Million Training Centre outside Birmingham
By Timur Moon | March 17, 2013 1:01 AM EST
The Church of Scientology has submitted a £6m plan to transform a country estate in the Midlands into an "auditing" centre dedicated to recruiting and training new members.
The secretive religious group, which counts Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its adherents, has lodged a planning application with Birmingham City Council to begin restoration work on the neo-classical, Grade Two listed mansion in Moor Green Lane, Moseley, which it bought seven years ago for £4.25 million.
Formerly used as office space by an insurance company, the former Pitmaston building will be used as a base to train members of the church.
The plan envisages restoring the marble and oak panelled interiors of the building, with one wing of the building to be set aside for "auditing" purposes and named the "Hubbard Guidance Centre", after the science fiction author, L Ron Hubbard, who founded the church in 1952.
The church has already held consultations to brief residents on the plans, and promised a "complete and sensitive" restoration which will "bring the property back to its former glory".
The church's director of public affairs in the UK, Graeme Wilson, said the building would be open to visitors.
"The plans include a complete and sensitive restoration which will cost around £6 million and include skilled crafts to restore marble and oak panelling, as well as structural work to repair and bring back to good condition materials that have been worn or damaged over the years," he said.
"We held two successful open day events last November and this gave us the opportunity to meet and talk to local people and listen to their thoughts. We were encouraged by the support we received on the attention to detail for the restoration proposals."
The church currently has 118,000 members in the UK, of whom 15,000 are active participants.
The mansion has remained unoccupied since the church bought it in September 2007. Prior to that, the building had been the headquarters of the Ideal Benefit insurance society.
Birmingham City Council said it had received no objections to the plan.
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