Amateur drama group launches bid to buy a empty United Reformed Church in Harleston

The United Reform Church in Harleston. Picture: LAURIE HAMMOND

The United Reform Church in Harleston. Picture: LAURIE HAMMOND - Credit: Archant

An amateur dramatic group is putting together a bid to buy an unused church to turn it into a permanent performance space.

The Harleston Players are attempting to raise funds to buy the empty United Reform Church, in Harleston town centre, in their 90th anniversary year.

If successful in their bid to buy the church, the society plans to open the space up to other groups, clubs and societies in order to make it accessible to and used by the whole community.

Cathy Gill, the chairman of Harleston Players, said: 'This is a fabulous one-off opportunity to create a performance space in the middle of town.'

'We would need to make some internal changes to create a stage. We would also renovate the hall at the rear for other uses. The problem is, of course, raising enough money to make this happen.'

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The property has a guide price of £75,000 to £125,000.

Several donations to the cause have already been made but there is still a lot of money to raise.

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In order to add sufficient cash to their own funds, Harleston Players are appealing to supporters to make donations of either £2,000, £500 or £100.

'It would be terrible if this lovely building was lost to the town and redeveloped as a house or carpet warehouse,' Ms Gill said.

'We are heartened by South Norfolk planners, who have deemed a change of use to residential or commercial as inappropriate.

'Also, they would prevent any parking at the front, which hopefully means the way forward is open to a bid from us.

'The council are also considering an application to have the building listed.'

Miss Gill described the opportunity as 'truly thrilling', whilst Laurie Hammond of the society sees the prospect of having a theatre in Harleston as 'very exciting'.

The Players and backers of the bid are encouraging all interested parties to contact Harleston Players through or for any more information or to make a pledge.

Have you got a Harleston story? Contact Diss and Harleston reporter Sabrina Johnson on 01379 651176 or email

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