PLANS to breathe new life into a redundant church on the Herefordshire border have been called-in to be decided by the county council's planning committee.

Earlier this year Norton Community Trust submitted applications to turn the Grade II-listed St Andrew’s Church in Norton, near Presteigne, into a “community hub”.

In 2020, following many years of declining attendance and an ongoing lack of funds for maintenance, Church in Wales declared the church redundant.

The trust was set up to preserve the building for use by the community, and wants to remove the pews from nave and transepts, upgrade the heating system, relocate the font, and put in an accessible toilet and kitchen below the belfry.

They have provisionally agreed a lease with the Church in Wales to take control of the building this year.

The decision over whether the plans can go ahead will now be heard by Powys Council's planning committee.

Powys County Councillor for Presteigne, Coun Beverley Baynham said: “I would like the application to be determined by committee due to the sensitive nature of the building and interest in the local community.”

At a meeting in March, Presteigne and Norton Town Council backed the project.

But Powys Council's built heritage officer Debra Lewis warned: “Whilst the desire to retain the church in community use is welcomed and supported in principle, given the lack of detail in respect of the proposed uses, the economic viability of the scheme is a concern at this stage.

“Hopefully as the project continues this concern will be addressed.

“Should amended plans not be forthcoming I would not support the application and would have to recommend refusal on the application in its current form.”

According to documents lodged detailing the proposal, the budget for the work is £100,000 and the trust has £50,000 set aside for the project.

If planning permission is given, the trust would then start a fund-raising effort to raise the rest of the money needed for the scheme.

Regular events using the former church being suggested include coffee mornings, exercise classes, a book exchange, mother & baby classes, and clubs such as gardening, history and film.

The venue would also be available for hire for events such as music concerts, arts, and heritage exhibitions.

The building is listed because it is a “virtually complete example” of the rural work of Sir George Gilbert Scott.

The original medieval church was restored by Scott in 1868.