Lind Trust plans to build �6m mega church in Drayton are withdrawn as new Hellesdon site is purchased
Plans to build a controversial �6m mega church in Drayton have finally been withdrawn, but could be revived on a vacant five-acre site in Hellesdon.
Plans for the proposed 1,000 capacity Norwich Family Life church and community centre on the site of the former David Rice Hospital sparked opposition since 2008.
Norwich Christian entrepreneur Graham Dacre owns the land off Drayton High Road through the Lind Trust, which already had planning permission, but was told more public consultation was needed.
In March last year Broadland District Council's planning committee finally accepted scaled-back plans for the site after rejecting previous efforts.
More than 50 letters of objection were sent to the council raising concerns about the scheme, ranging from the number of parking spaces, traffic, the impact on local wildlife and the appearance of the 7.2m high, 2,020sq m building.
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The withdrawal of those plans has now been confirmed, in a statement issued by the Lind Trust, which said the trust 'confirmed they would no longer be building a church on the former David Rice Hospital site on Drayton High Road and this site would shortly be going on the market'.
News that the church will not be built was greeted cautiously by Drayton Parish Council chairman, Hilary Kisby, saying: 'We will want to wait and see who will want to build there now. If it is homes then that could be a problem, because of the traffic which in Drayton is already such a problem.
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'That was one of the reasons we were against the conference centres that came with the church.
'And at the moment it is absolutely beautiful because the public have been allowed on the site and lots of people walk their dogs and take their children there to play.
'Mr Dacre has been very good about that and allowed responsible public access.'
The press release also revealed that the Lind Trust had acquired the five-acre site which was formerly the home of the Volvo dealership, on Cromer Road in Hellesdon, for an 'undisclosed fee'.
The large site has been vacant following the transfer of the Volvo franchise to Holden Motors in September last year, with completion of the acquisition expected later this year.
The land includes the former Volvo and Lexus showroom and workshops and also the used car site on Reepham Road but does not affect the normal trading of Hunters Land Rover or H A Fox Jaguar.
Les Brown, planning and development consultant at Les Brown Associates, confirmed the site could be a possibility for a church, saying: 'We have made some initial enquiries in respect of a mixed use development including a church and over the coming months we will be assessing how best to maximise the opportunity.'
Mr Dacre, who is involved with Today's Lifestyle Church, continued: 'We have no plans to move the church to Cromer Road at this time but if it made sense in the future then that is something we would look at with the congregation.
'Our church has been meeting successfully in Drayton for some time now and last month we started on a complete refurbishment of Drayton Hall which we hope we can show people later in the year with a community-wide open day.'
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