Proposals for church move rejected

CELIA WIGG Controversial plans to build a new Roman Catholic church on a green- field site near Diss have been rejected by councillors. South Norfolk Council's south-west area planning committee has also turned down proposals to demolish the existing church in Stanley Road to make way for housing.

CELIA WIGG

Controversial plans to build a new Roman Catholic church on a green field site in Diss have been rejected by councillors.

South Norfolk Council's south-west area planning committee has also turned down equally controversial proposals to demolish the existing church in Stanley Road to make way for housing. But councillors indicated, at the meeting on Tuesday, they are not opposed in principle to redeveloping the site - a move which is fiercely opposed by some members of the congregation.

The applications by the East Anglia Roman Catholic Diocese Trustees have been prompted by a decline in clergy. The subsequent reduction in services at Diss means a bigger building will be needed to accommodate larger congregations.

The intention was to sell the existing site for housing and invest the money received in building a new church at Brewers Green Lane, in neighbouring Roydon, on land offered by a local farmer.

However, objectors - who include the former parish priest - dispute the claim. They want the church to remain at the present site and maintain there is no need to relocate.

Most Read

Diss and Roydon parish councils also opposed the proposals and district planning officers recommended refusal.

A spokesman for the planning department said: “The committee felt the site at Roydon was completely the wrong site because of the impact on the area. They felt the gap between Roydon and Diss should be preserved.”

The committee had accepted the principle of replacing the existing church with housing, but refused the outline application because insufficient information had been submitted.

Parish Priest at Diss, Father Simon Blakesley said they still intended pressing ahead with relocation plans.

He said: “Naturally we are disappointed and we are now going to look into the probability of putting in a full application for the existing site to address the concerns of the officers.

“With regard to the green field site, we have to reconsider our choice of where (to build). We have to keep looking positively towards the future, but we obviously have to find a site that doesn't create the same level of resistance.”