Objections from a resident have failed to close the door on plans to replace iron gates on the south porch of Lynn’s St Nicholas’ Chapel with earlier wooden Victorian gates.
A Church of England judge has held she had no jurisdiction to deal with the objections to the move.
The return of the older gates to the Grade I listed chapel, which dates back to 1146, is part of a larger scheme aimed at opening up the chapel to wider community use.
The plan is to provide a focal point for people to learn about their local heritage and history.
The ruling on the three point objections from a Mr Moore came from Ruth Arlow, Chancellor of the Diocese of Norwich, and a judge of the Church of England’s Consistory Court.
She said Mr Moore, who lives a mile from St Nicholas’ Chapel, had raised concerns about the way public notices were displayed in relation to the petition requesting the go-ahead for the overall scheme.
He objected to the plan to replace the gates on the basis that the change would present a risk to the security of the building and the replacement gates would obscure from public view the fine inner porch.
He was also concerned that the iron gates are significant in themselves, portraying important symbols associated with the chapel, namely fish and pawn brokers’ golden balls, both associated with St Nicholas and also linked to the chapel which is known locally as ‘the Fisherman’s church’.
Adrian Parker, of the Friends of St Nicholas’ Chapel, said: “The plan is to replace the mid-1960s iron gates with the timber Victorian gates that were found in the Chapel. Mr Moore has a point, but this part of the work is low on our list of priorities.
“We know there is an anti-social problem in the area and this is something that will need to be taken into consideration. But there is no problem with hiding the porch, you will be able to see it over the gates.”
The Chancellor said Mr Moore had been given the opportunity to take a full part in the proceedings and oppose the moves but had instead left her to “take account of his written representations”.
As far as his objections to the gates were concerned, she said that Chapel had been “made redundant” in 1992 and this put it outside the court’s jurisdiction. In those circumstances she could not rule on the objection over the gates.
But she added that both English Heritage and the local planning authority considered that the reinstatement of the Victorian gates will greatly enhance the character and setting of St Nicholas.
She said it was also clear that concerns about security had been considered.
Mr Moore had raised concerns that the public notice in this petition was displayed only within the Chapel, which is often locked. No displays were required within the Chapel but instead in the chapel yard and at the parish church of St Margaret, Lynn Minster.
The Chancellor said that there had been failure to display the notice in the church, but it had been displayed in a way that was readily visible.
In the circumstances, she had ruled it was not necessary to display notice of the petition, relating to work in the chapel yard, which is still within the jurisdiction of the court in the parish church.
In those circumstances she held that the work, which will be substantially funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and as part of a wider programme of restoration work intended to bring new life to the Chapel could go ahead.
Mr Parker added: “We will be looking for contractors in early March ready to start the work at the beginning of April.”