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Norwich church hall built in wrong place served with new enforcement notice

PUBLISHED: 10:31 07 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:36 07 April 2019

The new church hall extension at Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The new church hall extension at Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

A new enforcement notice has been served on a Norwich church extension which was built in the wrong place - giving the option for the building to be demolished.

The view of the extension from the agarden of a home in Old School Close. Photo: ArchantThe view of the extension from the agarden of a home in Old School Close. Photo: Archant

The saga over the extension at the Bowthorpe Road Methodist Church stretches back to summer 2016, when Norwich City Council’s officers gave permission for the church hall to be demolished and replaced.

But an enforcement investigation was triggered after neighbours noticed the distance between the church hall and its boundary was not correct.

City Hall officers investigated and discovered the originally approved site layout plan had been drawn incorrectly.

At its greatest point, the hall was being built 4.5 metres closer to the northern boundary with homes in Old School Close than it should have been.

Julie Brociek-Coulton, Norwich city councillor for Sewell ward. Photo: Steve AdamsJulie Brociek-Coulton, Norwich city councillor for Sewell ward. Photo: Steve Adams

The church lodged a new application seeking permission for where it had been built.

But that application was turned down when members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee met in July last year.

Julie Brociek-Coulton, Labour councillor for Sewell ward, said in that meeting that she was “flabbergasted” and the building should be taken down.

While the committee stopped short of ordering that, they did okay enforcement action calling for the roof to be hipped, to reduce the impact on houses nearby.

However, in August, the church lodged an appeal over that enforcement action with the Planning Inspectorate.

In the documents submitted in that appeal, the church’s planning agent Magnus Magnusson, of Parker Planning Services, which were not involved with the original planning application or build, said: “Our client considers that the building, as constructed, does not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of the current or future occupiers at 10, Old School Close, or indeed the occupiers of any other building in the proximity of the application site.”

They say any harm to residential amenity was not considered significant enough to warrant refusal of permission and the “societal benefit” of a new church hall far outweighs the “demonstrably negligible’ harm.

But, when validating the enforcement appeal, the planning inspectorate told the council it ought to give the church the option to demolish the building.

So the council has withdrawn the original notice and re-served it, with that as an added option to revising the roof.

Jason Parker, managing director of Parker Planning Services, said: “Our company was not involved with the original planning application or build. We have been involved with this to sort out the disagreement and hope that the matter can be satisfactorily resolved.

“This matter is being dealt with by way of an enforcement appeal and planning appeal.

“In relation to this case, there appears to be confusion in relation to the approved position of the building. In any circumstance, if a building is not constructed in accordance with a planning approval or there appears to be some kind of misunderstanding or error, then this situation can usually be remedied in a number of ways.

“Extreme cases will of course result in the need to acceptably modify the building or result in demolition.

“The council has suggested that the development as built would be acceptable to them if the rear roof was altered to a hipped roof, whereas the building as built may be considered acceptable at appeal.”

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