Hatfield church on the move?

PUBLISHED: 17:34 02 August 2012

Ministers Mike and Heather Dyce outside Gracemead House

Ministers Mike and Heather Dyce outside Gracemead House

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A CHURCH could be relocated to a former tax office site in Hatfield town centre.

It is part of a development which will feature a cafe, drop-in centre and offices for the Herts Young Homeless Group charity.

The City Church, currently on the junction of Acacia Street and The Wades, has “outgrown” its existing premises and is set for a move to the larger, vacant Gracemead House site on the Queensway roundabout.

However, the move can only go ahead if a covenant attached to the church’s current site is lifted on Tuesday by Welwyn Hatfield Council.

The historic covenant, set by the Hatfield Development Corporation, states the site can only be used as a church or for a mission group.

Plans to build flats on the site , submitted by Snowgold Developments, sparked a 170-name petition objecting to the change of use.

Minister Mike Dyce told the WHT the project would be positive for Hatfield and the church had a “passion” to see the town grow to “come out of the perceived shadow of its more affluent neighbours”.

He said: “Gracemead House [the former tax office] came on the market over a year ago, and the chance to swap our current small site for a much larger one less than a mile down the road will enable a significant expansion of the church and community facilities in Hatfield.

“Gracemead’s size makes it the perfect versatile community building for the town.

“In addition, its location, right at the heart of Hatfield, makes it accessible to all; by bus, car, cycle or on foot.

“The congregation voted 100 per cent in favour of the move.”

City Church is a multicultural congregation of all ages.

Its only full time minister, the Rev Heather Dyce, was chair of governors at Onslow St Audrey’s School for six years.

The Rev Dyce added: “The aim is to provide a community facility (complementary to others in the town) which is open to help support all ages and cultures.

“We believe we can offer something to the many nationalities in Hatfield and make a positive difference in their town.

“Many people we’ve spoken to are excited at the plans.”

Planning permission has already been obtained for mixed use and negotiations are at an advanced stage with Welwyn Hatfield Community for Voluntary Service.

Refurbishment work on the building is almost finished.

Much of the work has been done by local volunteers, with the largest contract going to a Hatfield-based electrical business.

It is hoped the new church will open at the end of August.


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