Community united against plan to sell historic hall
- Credit: Peter Steward
Villagers have expressed their opposition to plans to turn a historic hall into two homes.
Hethersett Parochial Church Council (PCC) has applied for outline planning permission to convert St Remigius Church Hall into two three-bedroom homes and then sell these in order to fund repairs to St Remigius Church.
But the church hall has been used by groups for over 30 years and currently houses the Stella School of Dance which would be discontinued if plans were agreed.
Speaking during a Hethersett Parish Council planning committee meeting on May 4, local resident Dawn Chamberlain expressed her opposition.
She said: "My daughter is a pupil at the dance school and her life would completely change if it were to close.
"It is a huge part of so many children's lives here in Hethersett and helps with their welfare and wellbeing."
Sally Reeder, 24, has been a pupil at the dance school since age four.
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She said: "I can't imagine my life without the dance school, it is like a family.
"I don't want the dance school and opportunities for other young people in the village to be taken away.
"The dance school made me into who I am today and gave me the confidence to pursue my career as a high school teacher."
Councillor Eileen Mulvaney expressed her opposition to the plans, saying: "The hall has an important socio-economic function for the village.
"It has historic value and is also a community hub for villagers, the traffic coming in and out of Hethersett would increase and we have a strong case for it to remain in the village."
Other councillors, whilst concerned over the overall disrepair of the building and for the church's funds, agreed it played a vital role in village life.
Stella Gretsinger, who runs the dance school, also confirmed she would be willing to make an offer for the property if it went to sale.
The village rector, the Rev Derek McClean, said the PCC had been hit by the financial impact of the pandemic, and added it had a responsibility to seek the planning permission.
All councillors recommended refusal and this will be considered at a future stage by South Norfolk District Council.