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Plan submitted to transform Newmarket church into a new community hub for the town

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Plans have been submitted for a £1 million project which would see a parish church transformed into a community hub.

Newmarket ’s All Saints’ Church launched its ambitious Cornerstone project in May last year after two years of planning and the parochial church council has now formally submitted a planning application to West Suffolk Council.

If the project gets the go-ahead, it will see the Grade II listed church completely transformed with a new entrance on the corner of Park Lane and All Saints’ Road corner, a new kitchen, new toilets and baby changing facilities, and community meeting and counselling rooms. A new heating system is also planned.

Newmarket’s All Saints’ Church ... not a monument but a living building, according to proposals to transform it.
Newmarket’s All Saints’ Church ... not a monument but a living building, according to proposals to transform it.

It is intended to remove the church’s pews, replacing them with chairs creating a space, not just for worship, but also for a range of community events.

“Our proposal to create a new entrance to the church through the northwest corner will effectively modernise this threshold and announce that our church is at the the centre of the community and has life and energy within it,” the applicant said in a statement to the planning authority.

“We need to make the church more inviting to visitors and to remove the inherent reluctance to cross the threshold of a traditional church. Even when the building is open it appears closed.”

Back in 1986 some improvements were made including the installation of the current kitchen and toilets with the pews at the west end of the building removed.

The church is also keen to cater for those with more serious disabilities and proposes to create a Changing Places fully accessible toilet facility. It would be accessed using a security key it is anticipated would be available through the town council as well as the church. Earlier this year Greer Harbinson, the development project’s chairman, asked the town council to fund that part of the project, which he said would cost in the region of £19,000.

Having already set its budget for 2020/21 councillors agreed that the project would be considered by the community services committee with a view to include it in the council’s spending plans for 2021/22.

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