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'Like making a bonfire of 35,000 £10 notes' - Campaigners vow to continue methodist church fight

PUBLISHED: 07:20 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 07:20 14 March 2019

Neighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church have campaigned against plans to turn it into houses. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Neighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church have campaigned against plans to turn it into houses. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Campaigners say they are prepared to dig in their heels over plans for a former methodist church to be turned into housing.

Neighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church protest against plans to turn it into 20 homes. Lee Hooper (left) says the development would steal from her home's daylight Picture: Neil DidsburyNeighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church protest against plans to turn it into 20 homes. Lee Hooper (left) says the development would steal from her home's daylight Picture: Neil Didsbury

On Thursday, city councillors will decide whether to end a long-running saga around St Peter’s Methodist Church in Norwich’s Golden Triangle by approving the Interesting Building Company’s latest bid to turn it into 20 homes.

The application is almost identical to an earlier bid refused by the city council in July 2017 - but with a considerably lower affordable housing offer.

In 2017, the Wymondham-based home builders offered a £507,108 contribution to off-site affordable housing, which committee members deemed insufficient.

However, during an appeal against the refusal, the planning inspectorate suggested £167,172 was the maximum the city council could reasonably demand from the developers. This amount is exactly what has been offered this time around.

Andrew Boswell, of Havelock Road, who has campaigned against the proposals, said: “If this passes planning, Norwich residents will have been, once again, let down by the council.

“Instead of putting up a strong fight at last year’s appeal, the council allowed the £507,000 they were asking for affordable housing to be whittled down to £167,00 - a loss of nearly £360,000 for vital housing in the city.”

He added that it was tantamount to making a bonfire of 35,000 £10 notes and setting alight to it.

However, in her report to the committee, case officer Maria Hammand warned that should it be refused, an inspector would be unlikely to find in the council’s favour again - given that the offer has met inspector Mike Worden’s expectations.

Lee Hooper, another of the campaigners, has raised serious concerns that the proposed development would overshadow her home on Park Lane.

She said: “In our houses, daylight levels are already low, partly because the church and the church hall already take up much of our light.

“Daylight is precious to us and will be even more diminished by this development. This reduction could easily be avoided by not building just one of the 20 units.”

The application will be considered by the city council’s planning on Thursday, March 14.

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