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'Praise the Lord' - Pastor's relief as church hall built out of position is spared demolition

PUBLISHED: 06:30 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:49 21 January 2020

Pastor Edmond Tsui outside the Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church. Photo: Luke Powell

Pastor Edmond Tsui outside the Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church. Photo: Luke Powell

Archant

A £920,000 church hall which was built 4.5m out of position has been spared demolition by a planning inspector.

The opening of the Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church hall in October 2018. The city's lord mayor for 2018/19, attended the event. Photo: Bowthorpe Road Methodist ChurchThe opening of the Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church hall in October 2018. The city's lord mayor for 2018/19, attended the event. Photo: Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church

Norwich City Council had ordered that Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church's new hall be demolished and rebuilt, after its new extension was built 4.5m too close to Old School Road in 2018.

The church said it would be "heart-breaking" if the demolition had to go ahead and lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the city council's enforcement action.

And after waiting with bated breath over the decision, church bosses have now learned that its hall will be able to stay put after an inspector ruled in its favour.

Edmond Tsui, church pastor, said: "Praise the Lord. The hall has been serving the community for a long time now so it would have been such a shame to have to demolish it and start again.

"It is not just the church community that makes use of it - lots of local groups such as Brownies and Girl Guides do too, so it would really have been devastating.

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"It has been very stressful waiting to learn the decision but I'm now pleased we can put this whole ordeal behind us and continue to serve the community as normal."

Mr Tsui said the church has a weekly congregation of 150 people each Sunday and that it was also branching out to provide coffee mornings and other similar events.

It serves a mixture of English and Chinese Christians who had previously been based in Sprowston.

The building itself was completed in October 2018, with planning permission initially being granted in 2016. Around £300,000 towards the extension was crowdfunded by the congregation, while additional funds were raised through various grants.

However, after the building was built in the wrong place, City Hall took enforcement action, arguing that it is too close to homes on Old School Road and was "considered dangerous".

However, in his decision notice, planning inspector Stephen Brown wrote: "Although the presence of the new hall inevitably has a degree of impact on residential amenity, I am aware that the extended church provides an important community benefit.

"I consider this benefit outweighs such relatively small impact as there is."

Norwich City Council has been approached for comment.

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