1. ITV Report

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.

This has included a growing on-line presence, as well as more traditional paper media, including information relating to combating the use of drugs, encouraging human rights awareness, as well as information for schools.

Broadly, the building will cater for residents in Plymouth, albeit the facility will be the largest in the southwest of England and so more occasional visits from those outside of Plymouth are likely.

As part of the UK and global Scientology network, the facility will also see visit from outside of the southwest, and even internationally, albeit these will be much less frequent.

– 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.