Planners back Norwich community hub church

Broadland District Council planners yesterday (March 27) unanimously approved plans by Norwich businessman and Christian philanthropist Graham Dacre to turn a former five-acre disused garage site in Hellesdon in north Norwich into a vibrant community hub with a 3-400 seat church at its heart.

After the decision, Graham said: "I'm looking forward to working the plans up to the next stage and getting involved with the local community. The coming year will be a year of planning and hopefully in 2014 we will be on site."

Previously, talking to Network Norfolk, Graham spoke about the long-term plans, which could cost up to £10m, to turn the site into a thriving community resource to include a 3-400 seat church auditorium. Also included would be day care facilities for children, community shops, a branded coffee shop, carvery restaurant, soft play area, basketball court, boxing club, fitness and dance studio and recording facilities and motor museum, all centred around a covered central forum space.
Graham’s charitable Lind Trust acquired the site between Cromer and Reepham Roads in 2012 for £3.25m following the transfer of the Volvo franchise to Holden Motors last September.
“Our long term plan is for a community hub with a church at its heart,” said Graham. “It will be a resource for the whole community. This is a draft set of plans and I would really like input from all sections of the community to help develop them.
“It is a charitable not a commercial enterprise, providing facilities for the local community and would be a wonderful use for a redundant garage site, which will undoubtedly create a number of jobs.
“The site is at the centre of five major communities in Mile Cross, Old Catton, New Catton, Hellesdon and Drayton. The plan would aim to provide a real community hub at the heart of Hellesdon,” said Graham.
“The facilities and spaces will be made available for the use of the whole local community for those with and without faith and will hopefully be of great value to the area and its people in difficult economic times” said Graham. “It is unlikely that the total cost of the project will be less than £10m.
“I would stress that our TLC church is very happy at its Drayton Hall home and is looking to remain there for the foreseeable future,” said Graham. “We would hope though one day to outgrow it and with this in mind the long-term plans are being progressed.
“These plans are likely to take between 3 to 5 years to materialise and in the meantime it is probable that parts of the site will be let on a short-term basis. I am very excited about the project but it is a long term proposal.”
Pictured top is an artist's representation of what the central community forum area would look like.

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