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Demonstration held at City Hall ahead of planning appeal around St Peter’s Methodist Church site

PUBLISHED: 16:24 30 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:24 30 October 2018

Neighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church protest against plans to turn it into 20 homes. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Neighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church protest against plans to turn it into 20 homes. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

Campaigners will discover in the next few weeks whether a planning appeal over a bid to turn a church into homes they hope will fail has been a success.

Neighbours of St Peter’s Methodist Church in Norwich’s Golden Triangle gathered on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday ahead of an appeal hearing over plans for 20 homes in the former church.

The proposals, from the Interesting Building Company, were knocked back by the city council last year, however, the Wymondham-based developer appealed the decision.

A hearing in August was adjourned in light of new evidence and reconvened on Tuesday, with government planning inspector Mike Worden hearing the remainder of the evidence.

Ahead of the hearing, campaigners held a demonstration outside City Hall, urging the inspector to back the city council’s decision to reject the application.

Neighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church protest against plans to turn it into 20 homes. Picture: Neil DidsburyNeighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church protest against plans to turn it into 20 homes. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Carrying placards reading ‘save our affordable housing’, and t-shirts bearing the same slogan, the campaigners claimed overturning the council decision would give out to wrong message to future developers over affordable housing contributions.

Lee Hooper, who organised the demo, said: “The reason the plans were turned down was around affordable housing and we have a real problem with this in Norwich. For the sake of the city we need to make sure developers are paying their way.

“Central government has just set down new rules to try and promote developers paying properly towards it. If this is undermine this it would have a real impact on our society.”

The neighbours were joined by members of the Norwich Green Party, including Denise Carlo, the councillor for the Nelson ward, where the proposed site sits.

Neighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church protest against plans to turn it into 20 homes. Picture: Neil DidsburyNeighbours to St Peter's Methodist Church protest against plans to turn it into 20 homes. Picture: Neil Didsbury

She said: “I can’t believe a precedent could be set which would allow developers to get away with not paying decent contributions when there is a worsening homelessness crisis in Norwich.”

The hearing was told the city council and the IBC were more than £30,000 apart in respective valuations of the land, while the two parties were previously unable to agree to an affordable housing contribution.

Having heard evidence from the council, the developers, and campaigners, Mr Worden is to deliver his decision over the appeal in the coming weeks.

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