Historic Plymouth building to be converted into South West’s biggest Scientology church

What the Royal Fleet Hotel will look like after its conversion by the Church of Scientology Credit: Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc / Paul Butler Associates

Plymouth will soon be home to the biggest Scientology hub in the South West after controversial plans to convert a city building into a place of worship were given the green light.

The Church of Scientology has been granted planning permission by Plymouth City Council to convert the Royal Fleet Club in Devonport into a religious centre.

The church, which was launched in America in the 1950s and boasts several famous members including actor Tom Cruise, purchased the site in 2010 for an estimated £1million but only recently submitted its plans.

Tom Cruise is a member of the Church of Scientology Credit: PA

According to the documents, the church intends to “repair, refurbish and change” the Royal Fleet Club into “a place of worship and religious instruction”.

This will include a 96-seat chapel, information centre, book store, course and lecture rooms and a cafe.

The Royal Fleet Club building in Devonport, Plymouth. Credit: BPM Media

There will also be childcare facilities, a sauna and changing rooms (which the application states is ‘part of worship rites’), conference room facilities and two-bedroom residential accommodation.

The demand for Scientology services has had a steady increase over the last ten years in the UK and Internationally.

Church of Scientology on Plymouth plans

What is Scientology?

Scientology is a body of religious beliefs and practices launched in May 1952 by American author L. Ron Hubbard.

Hubbard initially developed a program of ideas called Dianetics, which was distributed through the Dianetics Foundation.

The foundation soon entered bankruptcy, and Hubbard lost the rights to his seminal publication Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1952.

He later re-characterised the subject as a religion and renamed it Scientology, retaining the terminology, doctrines, the E-meter, and the practice of auditing.

What do Scientologists believe in?

The Church of Scientology defines its main beliefs as:

  • Man is an immortal spiritual being.

  • His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime.

  • His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realised.

  • The ultimate goal of Scientology is true spiritual enlightenment and freedom for all.

Scientologists believe its practices provide methods by which a person can achieve greater spiritual awareness.

Followers are taught that a series of events, or incidents, occurred before life on earth.

They also believe that humans have hidden abilities which can be unlocked.