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PLANS have been submitted to breathe new life into a church near Presteigne, which closed its doors last year.

Norton Community Trust have submitted both change of use and listed building consent planning applications to turn, Grade II listed St Andrew’s Church in Norton, into a “community hub.”

In 2020, following many years of declining attendance and an ongoing lack of funds for maintenance, Church in Wales, in consultation with the local community, took the decision to declare St Andrew’s church redundant.

Norton Community Trust (NCT) has been created to preserve the building and to adapt it so that it can be used by the community.

They have provisionally agreed a lease with the Church in Wales to take control of the building this year.

The budget for the work is £100,000 and the trust has £50,000 set aside for the project.

If planning permission is given, the trust would then start a fundraising effort to raise the rest of the money needed for the scheme.

The main changes would be to remove the pews from nave and transepts, upgrade the heating system, relocate the font  and put in accessible toilet and kitchen facilities below the belfry.

Agent Trevor Hewett, writing in a design and access statement, said: “The conversion scheme seeks to secure the future of the redundant church as community facility.

“The alterations will make the church interior a more welcoming,
inclusive, accessible and flexible space, better able to serve the community.

“In developing their vision for a future for the church as a community hub, the Norton Community Trust have engaged in an extensive community consultation process which has generated a variety of suggestions for activities and events that might take place in the centre.”

Regular events being suggested for building include coffee mornings, exercise classes, a book exchange, mother & baby classes.

A range of local clubs including gardening, history, films could use the former church.

The venue would also be available for hire for events such as music concerts, arts and heritage exhibitions, family celebration parties, festival and local produce fairs,.

It could also become a focal point for the local groups such as the WI (Women’s Institute) and Young Farmers.

The building is listed because it is a”virtually complete example” of the rural work of Sir George Gilbert Scott.

The original medieval church was restored by Scott in 1868.

The extensive renovation was carried out under the patronage of Sir Richard Green Price who had inherited the manor of Norton in 1861.

Scott retained much of the fabric of the medieval church, but added transepts, vestry and a short spire which transformed the external appearance of the building.

The plans will be decided at a future date.

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