Parish church chiefs in North Walsham are re-thinking repair plans for the historic building - and may make them “more exciting”.

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A planning application has been submitted for medieval St Nicholas Church, in the town centre, where the ruined tower has been fenced off since 2010 because masonry had started to fall to the ground below.

The parochial church council (pcc) had expected necessary repair work to cost about £127,000. Available funding was already £30,000 short of the amount needed, but then firms tendering for the work had quoted a “much higher” sum than anticipated, according to churchwarden Nancy Heywood.

Now she said the pcc was debating whether to “think big” and apply for lottery funding, not just for the tower repairs, but for a much bigger overall project.

“It would be more exciting and we would need to consult the community properly,” said Mrs Heywood. The pcc is expected to make a decision at the end of January.

Meanwhile the church is seeking permission, known as a “faculty”, from the diocese of Norwich, and planning consent from North Norfolk District Council, to replace a flat roof in the vestry - which is within the ruined tower - with a pitched roof, replace concrete pointing in the tower walls with lime mortar, improve weathering details, remove a ground-level concrete apron around the church, replacing it with a drainage system, and to repair the south aisle window.

During an investigation survey, carried out earlier this year, some work was carried out to the tower, including cages which were placed around areas where masonry looked unstable.

Mrs Heywood said the church, with a capacity of 500, had been packed over the Christmas period, and it was also well used by the town’s schools and by Paston College.

“It is becoming an even more valuable asset to the community,” she added. “It’s the only building that can seat so many people.”

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