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Historic church to be converted into community hub

PUBLISHED: 17:14 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:25 10 December 2019

Christ Church United Reformed Church in Sudbury  Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

Christ Church United Reformed Church in Sudbury Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

Archant

A scheme by a Sudbury charity to transform a former town church into a much-needed community hub has moved another step closer.

Sudbury Hive aims to buy the former Christ Church United Reformed Church (URC) and adjoining Friars Hall.

It has now been granted permission by Babergh District Council for change of use of the building to create a multi-use community facility.

Hive is currently in negotiations with the URC's Eastern Synod over the sale of Grade II listed Christ Church, in School Lane, which has been empty since closing in January 2018 due to dwindling congregation numbers.

It applied to the council to win the change of use approval as it has raised most of the money it believes it will need to buy the property.

The charity has various grant applications in place but needs to match the funding to be in a position to make a competitive bid for the building, which is on the market for £650,000.

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Although the final sale price is still to be agreed, Apex has raised more than £210,000 in grants and cash, while fundraising for a further £50,000 is underway.

Trustee Lesley Ford-Platt said: "We are well on the way.

"Significant funding has already been promised to enable Hive to purchase the building but around £50,000 still needs to be raised.

"Hive has made an offer to the Eastern Region Synod of the URC and hope that this will be successful.

"With so many groups in need of this kind of accommodation, not available elsewhere, Hive hopes that it will be possible to agree the purchase early next year.

"Yet another winter with the building unheated and unrepaired will see further deterioration in its condition, and many people are keen to see the building back in use for the benefit of its community."

Hive is a charity that helps community groups through networking opportunities, offering free training courses and the sharing of expertise, and has members from over 40 groups and organisations including the Citizen's Advice Bureau, Kernos Centre, Eden-Rose Coppice Trust and Sudbury Area Cancer Support Group.

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