Church hall to be turned into home despite opposition

The Rev Derek McClean, Rector of Hethersett.

The Rev Derek McClean, Rector of Hethersett. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A planning committee has agreed to a reverend's plea to turn an old church hall into a home - despite local opposition to the plans.

South Norfolk Council (SNC) received 50 objections to the plans to turn St Remigius Church Hall, in Hethersett, into a home.

Many argued the building was still in use, including the Stella School of Dance, which has used the hall for 37 years.

Stella School of Dance holds classes five evening per week at St Remigius Church Hall in Hethersett.

Stella School of Dance holds classes five evening per week at St Remigius Church Hall in Hethersett. - Credit: Stella School of Dance

Hethersett Parochial Church Council (HPCC) applied for permission to convert St Remigius Church Hall, intending to put it up for sale.

Their plans would see the building converted into a 1.5-storey home, the later 1950s additions demolished, with the original 1850s structure remaining.

St Remigius Church Hall in Hethersett could be converted into two homes and sold off to fund repairs to St Remigius Church.

St Remigius Church Hall in Hethersett could be converted into two three-bedroom homes and sold off to fund repairs to St Remigius Church. - Credit: Peter Steward

On Wednesday, SNC's development committee heard the plans after the local member, Adrian Dearnley, called them in.

Mr Dearnley described it as a "valuable community facility" of which there was a shortage locally.

Most Read

But planning officer Sarah Everard said the applicant had disputed this, offering six alternative sites - three schools and three halls.

She added they had not heard in the consultation that the alternatives were oversubscribed and they considered them to be within a reasonable distance of the hall. 

The village rector, the Rev Derek McClean, told the committee the HPCC needed to sell off the property to keep the main church going.

St Remigius Church at Hethersett where the lead from the nave aisle roof has been stolen.

Converting and selling the hall would raise funds for repair work at St Remigius Church. - Credit: Denise Bradley

"I'm here to support the sale of the hall," he said.

"We have a shrinking congregation with management of limited budgets.

"We were looking to continue to develop the back of the church building for use within the community."

Rev McClean said their hands were "relatively tied" in terms of what they could do and charity law meant they had to get "best value" for the building.

Development committee chairman Vic Thomas described the building as an important part of the local history and said by converting it to a residential building they would be maintaining it for the future.

The plans were unanimously approved.

In May, Hethersett resident, Sally Reeder, 24, who has been a pupil at the Stella dance school since she was four, said: "I can't imagine my life without the dance school, it is like a family.

"I don't want the dance school and opportunities for other young people in the village to be taken away."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter