Fifteen years after church was destroyed by lightning strike, it eyes £7m return home
PUBLISHED: 17:37 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:43 24 January 2019
A church which was reduced to rubble after a devastating fire is hoping to finally move back home - 15 years after the blaze which left it homeless.
The Norwich Family Life Church has led a nomadic existence since fire ripped through the Mount Zion Family Life Centre, in Heartsease Lane, after it was struck by lightning in February 2006.
But plans for a new £7m to £8m purpose-built new home on the site of the church which burned down have been lodged with Norwich City Council.
Now known as Soul Church, the congregation has been based at Mason Road, but has long harboured hopes of a return. Church leaders say if that dream becomes a reality they could be in their new home by Easter 2021.
Architects Feilden and Mawson have come up with the designs for the replacement church, which would include a 1,083 seat auditorium with children and youth facilities, a cafe and a nursery for pre-school youngsters.
There would also be car parking, with 242 spaces, including 13 spaces for the disabled and 32 cycle parking spaces.
The church, described by architects in documents lodged with City Hall as an “iconic memorable building” would also feature new pedestrian access.
Pastor Jon Norman, who leads the Soul Church, said: “We have got great expectations for this. Our tagline for the project is that we are going home.
“What we want to be moving into is a purpose-built building which is not just for where we are today, but where we will be in the future. We want to serve our congregation and our community.
“It would be the dream to be in there in time for Easter 2021. But the next stage is getting the planning permission from the council.”
Mr Norman said fundraising for the project, which would cost between £7m and £8m, was on target.
In 2013, planning permission was secured for a replacement church building in Heartsease Lane, but church leaders said the cost of converting and maintaining the industrial unit in Mason Road, off Mile Cross Lane, had hampered relocation at that time.
The new application will be decided when it comes before a future meeting of the city council’s planning committee.