Scientology North East HQ plans for former Windmill Hills site

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Windmill Hills
Image caption,
The building was purchased by the organisation in 2007

The Church of Scientology is pushing ahead with plans to open a new North East headquarters at a derelict nursing home in Gateshead.

Windmill Hills was purchased by the organisation in 2007, but has remained empty amid claims it has become a magnet for drug addicts and vandals.

Emergency repair work was carried out at the council's behest in January.

The church has now submitted a planning application for a major redevelopment of the Grade II-listed building.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has reported this includes proposals for further repairs to the Victorian frontage, and the addition of four extensions to form a chapel and a cafe.

A planning application sent to the council said: "The proposed change of use for this building will retain the historic significance of both the external elevations and retain it in one ownership, whom is ultimately solely responsible for its future maintenance and use."

The Church of Scientology, which counts Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its followers, teaches that people are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature and offers believers a life improvement strategy it calls dianetics.

It currently occupies a building in Sunderland, but would move its operations to Gateshead once renovation was complete.

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