Norwich church could be turned into a circus
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013
A circus troupe hopes to turn a city church into a school for acrobats, it is revealed today.
Great Yarmouth-based Lost In Translation circus company hopes to move into the vacant St Michael Coslany Church in Oak Street, Norwich.
Performers hope to use the venue to rehearse touring shows, offer evening classes for adults and children and to stage public performances.
The building has been unused since the Inspire Discovery Centre moved out in 2011, and it has been on the market ever since.
Volunteers at Norwich Historic Churches Trust have welcomed the proposals, which could breathe fresh life into the medieval building and help to keep it in a good state of repair.
A formal planning application has been submitted to Norwich City Council.
St Michaels is a grade I listed medieval building which has been unused since 2011 when the Inspire Discovery Centre, a science-led educational facility, vacated the property.
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The vision has the blessing of Norwich Historic Churches Trust (NHCT) and would require no material changes to the church building - which used to be a gym in the 1970s.
Michael Wingate, of the trust, said he 'fully supports' the planning application.
'This proposed new use will make the church very accessible to the public and with a strong emphasis on enjoyment,' he said. 'Visitors will be able to watch the circus activities from the gallery or to take part in a range of classes, both for adults and children.
'The major investment made 30 years ago, to convert the church into a community gym, will allow the circus company to fit into the building without further changes to the historic fabric.
'This new activity will be a great benefit to the city and to the county.'
NHCT cares for 18 of the medieval churches in the city and is charged with finding appropriate uses for them and keeping them in good repair.
The church is described by local history buffs as 'among the most elegant and beautiful' of the Norwich city centre churches.
Its architectural features include early 16th century flint and limestone flushwork - decorative treatment of an outside wall - and fine arcading - a succession of arches.
St Michaels church has been on the market since 2012 and a number of alternative proposals have been considered, including as a wrestling venue.
Lost In Translation circus company was founded in 2008, is currently based in Great Yarmouth and has performed at the Out There Festival and Gorleston Clifftop Festival.
Bosses hope to offer evening classes to both adults and children, to develop and rehearse future touring shows and to host public performances.
Residents have also written in support of the application, with Joanne Jordan commenting: 'I think a training space in Norwich would greatly benefit the community.'
The application will be decided by planning councillors.