City's skateboarding store moves into 15th century church

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church on Kings Street. Pictured is own

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. Pictured is owner Sam Avery. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

A much-loved skateboarding store has officially moved into its new home within a disused 15th century church in the city. 

The Drug Store can now be found in St Peter Parmentergate Church in King Street - but it's not your average shop. 

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church on Kings Street. Pictured is own

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. Pictured is owner Sam Avery. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

With a ping pong table, lounge area and soon-to-be tuck shop, owner Sam Avery has tried to create a sociable space for the city’s skateboarding community

But it comes as a bitter-sweet moment for the 44-year-old. 

A planning application was lodged with Norwich City Council for the build of an indoor skatepark, store and café within the church back in September 2021, but permission was only granted in February this year

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church on Kings Street.

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Mr Avery said delays within the planning process meant the funds to build the indoor skate park “dried up” and his business was hit hard. 

A city council spokesman said the decision took longer due to the church being Grade I listed.

They stated: "The council supports the innovative re-use of this heritage asset and have worked closely with the applicant to ensure the building would be protected and neighbouring premises wouldn’t be impacted by noise.

"Because of these important checks it meant the determination period was slightly longer than usual."

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After moving out of its original store in Pottergate in March 2021, the Drug Store moved into a temporary location above Coterie Barbers in Bridewell Alley while he waited for the plans to be approved.

Despite feeling relieved to finally be operating from St Peter Parmentergate Church, Mr Avery, from Sprowston, said the indoor skatepark has been put on hold. 

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street.

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. The shop is also a social space. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

“It wasn’t a great time for us. The stress and frustration we have felt has been unbelievable but it was all out of our control,” said the father-of-one. 

“We were so grateful for the space above Coterie but it was difficult to find us, so we lost a lot of customers. 

“During that time, the money I had saved to build the skatepark I had to spend on keeping my business and family going.

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street.

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

“But now the shop is in, we have a little lounge and table tennis area for people to hang out.

"We have made a community space, but we haven't built the skatepark yet because we are chasing funding.” 

When it is built, the indoor skatepark will be run by Community East, a not-for-profit social enterprise, to create a place to teach the sport to youngsters and beginners.  

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street.

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Mr Avery is also director of Community East along with Ashley Lever. 

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church on King Street.

The Drug Store has opened its shop in St Peter Parmentergate church on King Street. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme