Project to turn medieval church into education hub moves forward
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
Plans to repurpose a medieval church in the centre of Thetford into an educational hub have been moved forward by its town council.
St Peter's Church, located on White Hart Street, was purchased by Thetford Town Council in 2009, and in 2018 a grant of £38,000 was awarded to complete urgent work on the building.
Discussions over its restoration project bid have been taking place, including conversations with Historic England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund, and Thetford town councillors agreed to move forward with plans for the church to be used as an educational centre on the Cambridge to Norwich tech corridor.
It is hoped it will contribute to Thetford becoming a national hub for "engineering manufacturing".
Town clerk Tina Cunnell said at a meeting last week that the plan is for St Peter's to become a hub for learning manufacturing, construction, STEM subjects, conservation, heritage crafts and other employable skills within the region.
Councillors discussed how it was a "great opportunity" to get the building back into use.
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Terry Jermy said: "Anything that we can do as a council to support the increased access to education then I think we should, there's a clear gap in the market for various training courses and activities.
"There's an awful lot of things that can be brought to the town that are not here at the moment.
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"As a landlord of a building which is historically so important in Thetford, we need to be aware of that and perhaps condition some of the use, an idea perhaps of St Peter's as a hub for the activities, an office or admin, that sort of thing."
A presentation attached to the council's agenda documents on the plans shared that it hopes the programme will boost the local economy through job creation and bringing opportunities to the town.
It added: "Thetford aspires to become a better place to live and work. One goal is to make Thetford the advanced engineering manufacturing hub of England."
Last year the council agreed to a “meanwhile use strategy” which will enable them to work with local groups and businesses to find the best long-term use for the church.