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Theatre hope for Hopton ruins

PUBLISHED: 09:47 28 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:46 03 July 2010

A NEW theatre could be incorporated into the site of St Margaret's Church ruins in Hopton.

A sub-committee behind the regeneration of the 800-year-old Grade II listed church has agreed to pursue a “romantic” option, involving the creation of the 200-seater theatre and facilities for themed fairs, art and craft exhibitions and weddings.

A NEW theatre could be incorporated into the site of St Margaret's Church ruins in Hopton.

A sub-committee behind the regeneration of the 800-year-old Grade II listed church has agreed to pursue a “romantic” option, involving the creation of the 200-seater theatre and facilities for themed fairs, art and craft exhibitions and weddings.

Project leader Brian Howard said the committee chose the option based on the results of a survey distributed to 1,200 homes in the village. Residents were given a choice between the romantic option, a second option proposing an enclosed ruin with meeting rooms and café, and a third option to do nothing.

Of the 240 respondents, 136 favoured the romantic option, with the second option receiving only 34 votes.

Mr Howard hoped to have the £300,000 regeneration completed by 2012 and the committee has sent off a number of applications for funding, including a bid for £250,000 from English Heritage to pay for the ruins to be stabilised.

A further application for a £5,000 grant has been sent to recycling organisation WREN.

“We are quite chuffed with how things are going and we are optimistic we will have the regenerated ruins up and running by 2012,” he said.

A new lead roof will be installed on the church tower to make it waterproof while a new internal staircase will be created to take people to the top of the tower.

The main section of the former church will house the theatre as well as outdoor seating and facilities for exhibitions, picnics and refreshments. The church will be lit up at night using spotlights to make it glow like a beacon.

The ruins' saga has been a long-running issue in the village due to protracted negotiations over the purchase of the site, which the parish council eventually bought for £1 from the Church of England in May.

The regeneration scheme was launched in July.

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