Church set to be built on former Norwich hospital site

A long-held dream to transform the former David Rice Hospital site into a church look set to get the green light this week.

Trustees of the Lind Trust are seeking approval for the church which would be able to accommodate more than 800 worshippers at the site, in Drayton.

Broadland District Council's planning committee had previously given outline approval to the scheme, which is backed by millionaire Christian businessman Graham Dacre.

But detailed proposals had previously been turned down by members following concerns about the scale of the venture and issues such as traffic congestion.

However in a report to be considered by the committee on Wednesday, officers are now recommending that the detailed proposals, which have been scaled back following widespread public opposition, are agreed. The rectangular building, which would be 7.2m high and cover more than 2,020sqm would include an auditorium, children's multi-purpose space, open areas, toilets and a caf�. There would also be 182 parking spaces and 25 cycle parking spaces.

The proposal would also include a footpath, which would allow public access to the site.

The Lind Trust has been looking for a new site for more than five years after a fire destroyed the Mount Zion Family Life Centre in Heartsease in February 2006.

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The latest proposals have also sparked 48 letters of objection linked to concerns about the height of the scheme, the number of parking spaces and traffic, the impact on local wildlife, and potential problems with anti-social behaviour.

But the officer's report has concluded that the scheme should go ahead: 'It is appreciated that there is local objection to the proposal, albeit considerably less than with the previously refused larger proposals, but on balance it is considered that the development will not cause harm to traffic flow or visual amenity, and will in fact provide a facility that will benefit not only residents locally, but also the wider community of Norwich.

'Most notably it is considered that this application is fully in accordance with the outline planning approval. As such it is considered to be acceptable in planning terms and it is, therefore, recommended that planning permission by granted.'

Do you have a planning story? Contact reporter Shaun Lowthorpe on 01603 772471 or email