Decision to convert church hall into home met with mixed reaction

St Remigius Church Hall in Hethersett could be converted into two three-bedroom homes and sold off t

The Church Hall in Henstead Road, Hethersett, is set to be converted into a home - Credit: Peter Steward

Reaction to a decision to turn an historic church hall into a home in a Norfolk village has been mixed.

South Norfolk Development Management (Planning) Committee agreed unanimously to allow the Church Hall in Henstead Road, Hethersett, to be converted into a single dwelling - with parts of the existing building being demolished.

The Rev Derek McClean, Rector of Hethersett.

The Rector of Hethersett, the Rev Derek McClean - Credit: Denise Bradley

Villagers took to social media to discuss the decision, which will provide St Remigius Church with funds to create more community space in its building on the B1172.

The Rector of Hethersett, the Rev Derek McClean, said this would benefit the community, but the move has left a well-established dance school desperately looking for a new home.

Local resident John Head said: “It costs £75,000 to keep the church doors open each year.

Stella School of Dance holds classes five evening per week at St Remigius Church Hall in Hethersett.

Stella School of Dance holds classes at St Remigius Church Hall in Hethersett - Credit: Stella School of Dance

"Over the next five years, £150,000 needs to be spent to upkeep the heritage building of the village. The £75,000 each year is found from approximately 100 people plus the occasional legacy.

"The church hall is struggling to be maintained and, I assume, would have to be closed if it continues to deteriorate. The money from the church hall will go towards preserving the heritage building else that too will be in jeopardy.”

But Stella Gretsinger, owner of Stella School of Dance, said she was finding it almost impossible to find an alternative venue that can accommodate 23 hours a week of hire time, the amount used by the school in the Church Hall.

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“If anyone has knowledge of such venues locally that are available for hire from 4pm onwards Monday to Friday, I would be extremely grateful to hear from them,” she added.

Mrs Gretsinger can be contacted via info@stellaschoolofdance.co.uk.

With the debate splitting residents, there was a plea from one for everyone to come together to help solve any problems.

“Please remember there are real people behind these stories, with families and worries you can’t begin to imagine," said Sara Kenny.

"Please be kind always. We are a community; nothing is gained by being aggressive or dividing."

Conditions put on the approval will include limiting construction hours to avoid noise for nearby residents.

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