Mixed views on Brundall church expansion plans

Opinion was divided in Brundall over the weekend as controversial plans detailing a church expansion went on display to the public.

The far-reaching proposals for St Laurence Church would see the memorial window moved and the Victorian north aisle demolished with a large worship centre built on the North side with modern facilities such as a kitchen and a disability compliant toilet, both of which the current church does not have. It would create 180 more seats.

The existing medieval building would be used as a side chapel for small services and prayer.

At least 15 new car parking spaces would be created as well as seminar rooms which could also be used as an Ofsted-compliant nursery for children.

The plans would mean that headstones and trees would also need to be removed.

The Rev Dr Linnet Smith said: 'The church is beautiful but tiny. It's the same size from when the population of Brundall was 1,000 to now when it is 4,500. It is just not big enough for regular services and funerals, weddings and remembrance services.

'The church is too narrow. Coffins have to be wheeled up the aisle and a bride, groom and father of the bride are unable to walk down the aisle together. The existing church would be used for small services and prayer.

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'Plans have been ongoing for the last 50 years but they have not been adequate. We need more space to do things for the community, we would like to be a part of the big society.'

The church would need to raise funds of between �750,000 and �1m if the planning applications were approved.

Janet Jury, an architect at Reynolds Jury, which has been working on the plans since 2007, said: 'The church would be elated if the plans were approved. They have put so much time and effort into it. There are so many people who support the expansion including the Arch Deacon, and English Heritage.

'Any trees which would be lost will be replaced and a professionally managed tree planting scheme will be implemented.'

However, some people in the community were averse to the plans, voicing concerns about the loss of heritage and the proposed size of the building.

Christine Laxton, from Westfield Road, opposed the plans: 'The proposed building is far too big and over the top, I can't believe it. There will not be enough parking, 20 headstones will be removed and they will chop down trees. We already have a decent memorial hall. It has split the village in two.'

Maureen Dougall, from Long Meadow, Brundall, said: 'I think the plans are a good idea. They will bring more space and more up-to-date facilities.'

Cynthia Fisher, from Braydeston Crescent, said: 'I am happy as it is. I don't see what is wrong with extending the church room instead. There are only a few congregations where there are too many people.'

A resident who wished to remain anonymous said: 'I am not happy about the plans to extend the church. Part of it is a medieval church. I am worried about the parking, even the proposed 15 spaces will not be enough so it is not solving the problem of on-street parking.'

What do you think about the proposed plans? Comment online at http://www.broadland.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/PLComments.aspx?pk=614998 or contact reporter Lucy Wright on 01603 772495 or email lucy.wright@archant.co.uk