Church hall to be turned into home despite opposition
- 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.
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.
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.
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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.
"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."