New 2,500-seat £5m church plan for Norwich
By Keith Morris
Two Norwich churches have joined forces and are drawing up plans for a new 2,500 capacity church and community centre complex, costing £5m, on the outskirts of the city.
One year after a fire destroyed the Mount Zion Family Life Centre building on Heartsease Lane, the church has announced plans to merge with Drayton Hall Church to become the Norwich Family Life Church with immediate effect. The current congregation numbers around 400.
The new combined church is talking to Broadland District Council about a plan to build a £5 million church and community centre on the 32-acre former David Rice Hospital site on Drayton High Road.
The pastoral teams from the two churches are joining together to include Alan Pimlott, Graham Dacre, Trevor Pimlott and Bud Pimlott.
Pastor Trevor Pimlott said: “We are very excited about the possibility of building on the David Rice site and we will be talking to Broadland District Council about using the site to build a church and community centre fit for the 21st century. In respect of the Heartsease Lane site we will be looking to maximise its opportunity and potential also. Watch this space.”
Graham Dacre, who attended and oversaw the Drayton Hall Church, said: “I am delighted to be part of a larger new church and all it will offer to the city of Norwich. It would certainly be great to see the David Rice Hospital site redeveloped for church and community use. Clearly we will need the support of all at Broadland District Council.”
Pastor Trevor Pimlott said: “These are truly remarkable days and I am delighted with the developments and news. My heart is to be a positive influence within our city, invest for future generations and be of value to thousands of families in the coming years. We are concerned for all ages and the new church will therefore care and provide for all from the cradle to the grave. Life is becoming increasingly challenging and complex and our goal is to provide answers and hope. Together we will respond to the needs of all around us, in Drayton, Heartsease and in Norfolk. It is great news all round.”
Since the fire 12 months ago, the Mount Zion church has met at Drayton Hall. Community projects have continued at Heartsease from urgently constructed temporary buildings, and activities cater for all ages from pre-school to special events for the more senior members of the community.
Discussion with the local authority indicated the Heartsease site was no longer sufficient for all that is planned in the future and over recent weeks consideration has been given to the former hospital site on Drayton High Road. The 32-acre site was purchased by the Lind Trust ten years ago.
The envisaged cost of development for a church and community centre on this site is £5 million. The proposed structure for the new church building is glass and steel – a beautiful, architecturally significant building. Discussions are underway with Broadland District Council and plans will be submitted in due course.
Christine Field, a spokesperson for the new church, said: “It’s not often churches come together so it’s all the more exciting. As a church we embrace the opportunity to work with Graham and Julie Dacre. They have a heart for young people as can be seen in their support for the Open Youth Venue project. Branding for the new church is being developed and will be released in due course.
"The approximate time scale for completion is 2009. As for the scale - we hope to build it as big as planners will allow ... clearly there is still a lot to discuss with planners. A sanctuary to seat 2,500 has always been the vision. On the 32-acre site there is plenty of space for numerous community facilities and activities to impact and benefit our city and all of these will be explored with planning”.
The plans were announced to leaders of the Mount Zion Family Life Centre church at a dinner on Friday evening at the Holiday Inn in Norwich and shared with the congregation on Sunday morning.
The leaders of churches throughout Norwich will be receiving personal communication of these announcements by letter this week.
Pictured above are new Norwich Family Life Church pastors Alan Pimlott (left), Graham Dacre, Trevor Pimlott and Bud Pimlott.