Question mark over future of Wymondham Catholic Church site

A question mark has been thrown over the future of the Catholic Church in Wymondham after it was approached by a mysterious developer keen on buying the site and relocating the building elsewhere.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia has confirmed it was first approached in September last year by an agent offering to build a new church and make a donation of �400,000 to parish funds.

But with little information put forward as to their intentions for the site, the Diocesan Trustees turned down the proposition.

However the church, based in Norwich Road, has now decided to reconsider the offer in light of news that Wymondham Town Council is in talks with retailer Asda about building a new supermarket on an adjacent site at Kings Head Meadow.

Rumours that the agent was working on behalf of Asda spread last week when parish priest, Father Dick White, circulated leaflets asking parishioners their views on the possible relocation of the church.

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However Asda has denied it has ever approached the church asking to buy its site.

Rev Mark Hackeson, a spokesman for the Diocese, also said it had never entered talks with the retailer.

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On why the church was now considering the move, he said: 'The use to which the developer in question wishes to put the land has not yet been ascertained.

'However, the town council's negotiations with Asda for the sale of the Kings Head Meadow for a supermarket development presents the parish with the possibility of the church site - which comprises the church, priest's house, church hall and car park - becoming a traffic island with a real effect on the accessibility and use of the site seven days a week.'

Rev Hackeson said the leaflet represented just an initial consultation into the proposals which would enable the Diocesan Trustees to decide whether it would be worth opening up negotiations with the developer.

'If it was apparent that the parish was interested in pursuing negotiations, including further information, then a full consultation and study would be put into motion. Obviously no final decision would be made until that consultation and study had been completed. If it emerged that the parish was opposed to the offer, then no further action would be taken,' he added.

The church, which was completed in 1952, was built as a shrine to all Far Eastern Prisoners of War.

Chris Martin, property communications manager at Asda, said: 'We have never shown an interest in the Catholic Church or instructed an agent on our behalf.

'We are pulling together the provisional outline for the site at Kings Head Meadow and expect to take these proposals out to public consultation next year.'

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