Town's new community centre approved by planners

What the redeveloped St Michael's Rooms building could look like Picture: JAMES GORST ARCHITECTS

What the redeveloped St Michael's Rooms building could look like Picture: JAMES GORST ARCHITECTS - Credit: Archant

Proposals for a £1.36million redevelopment of an ageing church hall in Framlingham have been given the green light by planners.

St Michael's Rooms, which was built on the grounds of the town's St Michael's Church in 1898, has begun to show its age and is in desperate need of a revamp.

The building was only intended to be used for up to 80 years after it was first built, but is still in use for a range of recreational activities - such as leisure classes and art exhibitions.

The current St Michael's Church Rooms would be demolished for a new building Picture: ANDREW HIRST

The current St Michael's Church Rooms would be demolished for a new building Picture: ANDREW HIRST - Credit: Archant

Framlingham Parochial Church Council (PCC), which owns the building, has been developing plans to introduce a new community centre to the town since spring 2018.

A public exhibition on the project was held in January last year.

The original estimated cost to revamp the hall was £840,000, with East Suffolk Council providing the bulk of the funds with £700,000 of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) cash generated from housing developments in the district.

But the cost of the project ballooned to more than £1million which, coupled with the loss of income throughout the coronavirus crisis, forced the PCC to seek extra funding.

Last October, Framlingham town councillors approved £126,000 of funding for the project, having initially only agreed to pay out £70,000.

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Former councillor David Beal said he resigned from the council partly due to his opposition to the decision, believing "the church will come back for more money" and raised concerns over its legality.

Plans for the scheme were officially submitted to East Suffolk in December, with planning documents arguing the scheme would "benefit the community" and provide a "much-needed resource" for the town.

The documents added: "Throughout the preparation of this proposal we have remained mindful of the responsibility of building a new community building into such a picturesque and historic context.

"This building will be a celebration of communal activity and will represent the fruition of countless hours of unpaid civic-minded activity by public spirited members of the Framlingham community."

East Suffolk planners have now given the scheme the go-ahead, though a full specification of external materials used will need to be submitted to the council before work can commence.

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