Norwich church saved by planners from demolition
A Methodist church in Norwich, home to a Chinese congregation and which opened in 2018, has been saved from demolition after a planning inspector gave it a reprieve from enforcement action ordered by Norwich City Council.
The new Methodist Church building on Bowthorpe Road in West Norwich was officially opened in November 2018, but hanging over it has been the threat of demolition after a planning mistake when it was built 4.5 metres too close to houses on Old School Road.
The church said it would be "heart-breaking" if the demolition had to go ahead and lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the city council's enforcement action.
And now a planning inspector has ruled in its favour because of the “important community benefit” it provides.
Church pastor, Edmond Tsui, said to the EDP: "Praise the Lord. The hall has been serving the community for a long time now so it would have been such a shame to have to demolish it and start again. It is not just the church community that makes use of it - lots of local groups such as Brownies and Girl Guides do too, so it would really have been devastating.
"It has been very stressful waiting to learn the decision but I'm now pleased we can put this whole ordeal behind us and continue to serve the community as normal."
The church has a weekly congregation of around 150 people with a mixture of English and Chinese Christians who used to worship at Wroxham Road Methodist Church.
The congregation raised around £300k with the Methodist Church contributing another £600k
After the building was built in the wrong place, City Hall took enforcement action, arguing that it was too close to homes on Old School Road and was "considered dangerous".
However, in his decision notice, planning inspector Stephen Brown wrote: "Although the presence of the new hall inevitably has a degree of impact on residential amenity, I am aware that the extended church provides an important community benefit. I consider this benefit outweighs such relatively small impact as there is."
Article extracts from EDP24
Read our previous article on this topic.
Pictured top is Pastor Edmond Tsui outside the church and, above, the opening service in 2018.