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Church objects to retirement home plans for former social club

PUBLISHED: 15:18 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:18 06 February 2020

Plans have been submitted for 46 retirement homes on the site of a former Apollo social club in Harleston. Picture: McCarthy & Stone

Plans have been submitted for 46 retirement homes on the site of a former Apollo social club in Harleston. Picture: McCarthy & Stone

McCarthy & Stone

A church group has objected to plans for build 46 retirement homes on the site of a former social club.

Demolition work under way at the site of the former Apollo club in Harleston ending hopes it could be turned into a community church. Picture: Simon ParkinDemolition work under way at the site of the former Apollo club in Harleston ending hopes it could be turned into a community church. Picture: Simon Parkin

Hope Church, based in Diss but which holds weekly meetings in Harleston, had wanted to buy the former Apollo Club to turn it into a permanent base in the town.

A petition to re-open the club on Mendham Lane as a faith venue hosting a wide variety of community groups and activities garnered more than 1,000 signatures, but a bid to purchase the building was unsuccessful and it was demolished in May 2019.

Hope Church team leader Graham Blake outside their Diss base in Vinces Road. The group wanted to create a similar facility in Harleston. Picture: Simon ParkinHope Church team leader Graham Blake outside their Diss base in Vinces Road. The group wanted to create a similar facility in Harleston. Picture: Simon Parkin

McCarthy & Stone have applied to build 40 retirement living apartments, four bungalows and two coach houses, as well as landscaped gardens and on-site car parking, on the now empty site.

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Hope Church has submitted an objection and urged the developers to work with them to provide a community space.

Pastor John Heasley said: "When this site was originally up for sale, Hope Church offered the full asking price to purchase the building that was on this site. We also went back to the owners offering to only take half the land with the building still offering the full asking price.

"We would still be willing to work with the current developers to provide a community centre for the use of ourselves and the community, as there is currently no community centre in the town of Harleston."

The church said a community space incorporated into the site and available for rental would allow it to provide parent and toddler groups, community lunches, family film nights, children's clubs, a foodbank base, and drop-in advice times, as well as regular Sunday services.

MORE: Church hopes dashed after former club demolished

The plans submitted to South Norfolk Council followed a public consultation exhibition and state: "Private 'sheltered' housing schemes play a vital part in the life of the local communities. The proposed site is located within easy walking distance of the local shops and facilities and this will contribute significantly to retail viability providing additional expenditure within the local community, shops and businesses."

Matt Wills, regional managing director of McCarthy and Stone, said: "Our plans would assist in meeting a growing need for housing for older people in Harleston."

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