PLANS to convert a church in a Radnorshire village into a hub for the local community are nearing fruition, with those in charge hopeful the building will be open by the autumn.

St Andrew’s Church in Norton’s closed in 2019 in the face of a dwindling congregation and scarce funds.

But since then about £200,000 has been spent on refurbishing the Grade II* listed building, which when complete will give Norton its very first-ever community facility.

“It really is a good news story,” said John Refausse, chair of the Presteigne and Norton Community Trust (PNCT).


“The former church was made redundant in 2019, due to a declining congregation. The building needed money but there were not many funds, which is a familiar problem.

“We felt we had an opportunity to do something for the community. Norton has no local facilities so it was a chance to plug that gap.

“We have the association with Presteigne and Knighton’s not far away, but the village itself hasn’t had anything previously itself, so now we will have that.

“Norton serves quite an aging population so this will allow people to reach it on foot.”

The community hub initiative will provide a facility for local residents while preserving the heritage of a building which has its origins in Norman times.

It’s been a painstaking process, but John says the finish line is in sight.

“The planning phase has been a lengthy and challenging task, it’s taken about two years, but the hope is we’ll be able to open by end of the year,” he added.

“From public meetings and consultations we’ve held, people are keen to use it and support it long term. We’re almost there.”

Those behind the building revamp have signed a lease with the Church in Wales for 30 years and set up the PNCT, a charitable body.

The church has been given a facelift, with new toilets and a kitchen installed, the church pews have been removed to create a usable community space, with a meeting room also a feature.

“The project has cost in excess of £200,000,” said John. “Funding came early on from the Architectural Heritage Fund (£10K), Presteigne and Norton Town Council (£12K) and the local community raising money through various events and evenings.

“Through a fundraising campaign, we’ve raised a further £180,000 through grants.”

County Times:

The biggest boost came via a £75,000 grant from the Community Lottery Fund, but others have contributed massively.

The Church in Wales donated £35,000, Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO) have given £3,000, the Moondance Foundation has provided more than £10,000, the Garfield Weston Foundation has generously granted £20,000, the Powys Welsh Church Act Fund provided £5,000, the Bernard Sunley Foundation has pledged £15,000, £7,500 has come from the Foyle Foundation, while Magic Little Grants will contribute a sum to purchase tables and chairs for the cafe area within the community hub.

For more information about the project, visit the website.