Bid to turn Fakenham church into homes could be given the green light within weeks

PUBLISHED: 10:43 21 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:43 21 November 2014

Fakenham Baptist Church senior pastor Bob McKay. Picture: Ian Burt

Fakenham Baptist Church senior pastor Bob McKay. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

The final hurdle in a vision to turn a historic church in Fakenham into housing and move it to a new site could be cleared within weeks.

An artist's mpression of what the new church, near The Running Horse Pub, may look like.An artist's mpression of what the new church, near The Running Horse Pub, may look like.

A bid was submitted to North Norfolk District Council last month to build nine properties in the 213-year-old Fakenham Community Baptist Church.

If the plans are approved, a new worship centre would be built on land off Clipbush Lane, near The Running Horse pub.

Bob McKay, pastor, said that the church had outgrown its current site, on Mill Court, and needed to move to a larger premises.

“This building has served us well for 200 years but we have outgrown it. Each Sunday we are jammed and struggling to do children and toddler groups,” he said.

The plans would see an extension added to the former church hall, which would be converted into one detached house, two semi-detached properties and six cottages.

In April, permission was granted for the new site in the north of the town.

Mr McKay said: “It will basically be a large warehouse. Hopefully will be able to do a lot more. We are limited with what we can do at the minute. There will be a worship area, a cafe in the middle and a large sports hall which would be a general use space.”

The move has provoked concerns among residents that the new flats would be out of keeping with the historic surroundings, which are within in a conservation area.

But the pastor said that measures had been taken to ensure this wouldn’t be the case.

“The architect has worked really hard on this to make sure that people’s views will be the same. He hasn’t just put houses in anywhere.

“If anything, it will be quieter for those living there - they will just be having normal neighbours,” he added.

But Peter Milson, who lives on Swan Street, said that he thought the plans were “absolutely ridiculous”.

“They have reduced the number of homes from 14 to 9 but I don’t understand why they have to go there,” he said.

In a document on the council’s planning website, Fakenham Town Council made no objections to the plans, but raised concerns over the proximity of the church car park to a narrow road.

North Norfolk District Council is expected to reach a decision by mid-December. Once a developer has come forward, work could begin early next year.

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