Norwich church destroyed by lightning more than a decade ago seeks more time to raise cash to move back home
- Credit: Evening News � 2006
A congregation which lost its place of worship after a lightning strike more than a decade ago is still hoping it can rise from the ashes at its former home.
But, in the meantime, church leaders are hoping city councillors will extend the time they can stay in their temporary home - so they can raise money to move back.
The Soul Church was formed in 2014, after the Norwich Family Life Church was renamed. In 2006, the church's place of worship - the Mount Zion Church in Heartsease Lane - was destroyed in a blaze caused by lightning.
The church moved into the former MFI warehouse in Barker Street, but when a deal to buy that fell through they moved, in 2010, to an industrial unit in Mason Road, off Mile Cross Lane.
That has been the temporary home ever since for the Soul Church, but they have always wanted to move the congregation of about 1,000 people back to Heartsease Lane.
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In 2013, planning permission was secured for a replacement church building in Heartsease Lane. But church leaders say converting and maintaining Mason Road has been a considerable drain on funds, so the relocation has yet to happen.
While they continue to raise enough money to move back, the church wants to stay in Mason Road and has asked Norwich City Council for permission to extend the use of the building.
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A decision will be made by the council's planning committee tomorrow, with officers recommending that they grant temporary planning permission for a further five years to give the church further time to secure the cash.
In a report which will come before councillors, officers said: 'Whilst the site is not considered ideal in terms of transport sustainability and is located within an area designated for employment purposes, regard is had to the circumstances of the church which requires temporary accommodation for a further period of time whilst funds are raised for permanent relocation to more suitable premises in the future.
'Although a small number of objections have been received on the grounds of noise disturbance the church has committed to fully implementing recommendations within the noise report and carrying out ongoing noise management to ensure impacts on neighbouring occupiers are minimised.'