Plans for school are submitted

Villagers looking to restore a historic school which featured on last year's BBC series Restoration Village are one step closer to their dream after proposals to transform the building were submitted to a district council.

Villagers looking to restore a historic school which featured on last year's BBC series Restoration Village are one step closer to their dream after proposals to transform the building were submitted to a district council.

A group from Pulham St Mary, near Diss, has been battling to convert the Grade II listed Pennoyers School into a village centre since December 2005.

The former primary school dates from the 15th century and started out as a medieval guild chapel. It was extended in Victorian times, but it has stood empty for the last two decades while attempts were made to find a new use and it is now on Norfolk's buildings at risk register. It has also been included on a preliminary list of ten endangered buildings nationally drawn up by the Victorian Society.

Villagers want to transform the school into a new centre providing village hall activities, education and business facilities and heritage learning.

An application for planning permission to change the building's use from a disused school to a village centre with alterations and extensions has now been submitted to South Norfolk Council, along with an application for listed building consent.

Last month villagers received a £5,000 boost from the council for the project.

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Plans for the restoration of the school were unveiled to villagers at a public meeting last month.

Drawn up by the project's architects, Lucas Hickman Smith, the plans feature a striking new timber and glass extension on the front of the derelict building.

The design will see the ancient chapel preserved and restored to its former glory while in the Victorian parts of the building a mezzanine floor will be constructed that will provide extra meeting rooms and also a birdseye view over the entire guild chapel.

The ground floor area has been designed to open out into a space for village hall activities and as concerts and weddings. The building will also have disabled access to the first floor.

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