Plans for a major redevelopment of the Catholic Shrine at Walsingham have been dropped after concerns were raised about the impact on the 14th-century Slipper Chapel and the effect of coronavirus on visitor numbers.

The Trustees of the Catholic National Shrine withdrew the planning application to North Norfolk Council after the Diocese of East Anglia Historic Churches Committee expressed concern about the impact of the new development on the setting of the historic chapel. Historic England also expressed reservations.

The plans would have seen the current Chapel of the Reconciliation, built in the 1980s to resemble a barn, replaced with a neo-Gothic church. There would also have been expanded facilities for pilgrims.

Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia, Chairman of the Walsingham Trust, said: “We are very positive about the future of the Catholic National Shrine at Walsingham, which is a place of great devotion for around 250,000 Catholics and other pilgrims and visitors every year.

“The Trust seeks to both preserve the Shrine’s unique character and serve the needs of pilgrims whilst ensuring that it continues to make a positive contribution to the local community.

“There is no doubt that many of the current facilities do need to be improved and developed, but we must ensure that the solution to the practical problems of the Shrine do not harm its unique and special nature.

“The Trustees have listened to the many contributions to the recent application for planning consent and have decided to review the objectives of the project and potential options in the light of recent concerns.”

Picture: Slipper Chapel (courtesy Diocese of East Anglia)

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