Bid to use Norwich church for circus school on brink of success

Lost in Translation Circus perform in Gorleston. Picture: James Bass

Lost in Translation Circus perform in Gorleston. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

An empty city church is on the brink of a new lease of life as a circus school, with a decision on its future due to be taken within days.

St Michaels Coslany, Oak Street Norwich which could be used for a circus school. Photo : Steve Adams

St Michaels Coslany, Oak Street Norwich which could be used for a circus school. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Great Yarmouth-based Lost In Translation circus company hopes to move into the vacant St Michael Coslany Church in Oak Street, Norwich.

The company asked Norwich City Council for planning permission to change the use of the grade I listed medieval building, which has been unused since the Inspire Discovery Centre closed in 2011.

Performers want to use the venue to rehearse touring shows, offer evening classes for adults and children and to stage public performances.

And officers have recommended that members of City Hall's planning applications committee should give the go-ahead for the change when they meet on Thursday next week.


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In the report which will go before councillors, planning officer Caroline Dodden said: 'The change of use into a circus training studio is an interesting and innovative use for this significant grade I listed building.'

The proposal has been backed by the Norwich Historic Churches Trust and civic watchdog The Norwich Society. The latter said it had 'some reservations' about the noise during performances, but that they were 'outweighed' by bringing the building back into use.

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The concerns over noise - and over parking - were also aired by people living in homes nearby, with eight objections to the proposal. The council received 10 representations in support.

Officers agreed the 'break-out of noise' was the main concern, but that any potential problems could be tackled through a noise management plan and conditions. No changes will need to be made to the historic fabric of the church.

In recommending approval, Mrs Dodden said: 'Whilst there are some concerns about the potential noise and servicing of the premises, it is considered that these matters are outweighed by the proposed positive use of this historic building.

'It's use for circus training/classes and occasional performances would benefit and enhance the local area and the wider population of Norwich.'

Lost In Translation had previously said, depending on the progress of the planning application, it hoped to start using the church in March, with things slowly building up over the year.

• Do you think a circus school would be a good use for the church? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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