Tue, 03 Dec 2019
TOWN councillors have has given their full support to plans for a £5m expansion of Newbury Baptist Church.
If approved, the church will be turned into a state-of-the-art community hub with a lounge area with coffee shop where people can go to work or relax.
There will also be a multi-purpose area which can be used by community groups, eight meeting rooms and office space.
At a Newbury Town Council planning and highways committee meeting on Monday, November 18, councillors heard from church member and project leader Paul Davey about how the church would be a real community building.
“As a church, we made a decision some time ago that we wanted to engage more effectively with the community in the town centre,” he said.
“We’ve been looking at how we could develop our site, which is somewhat tired and in need of renovation, and focusing on the current and potential future users.
“The design objectives were to build a building that could be used by the nascent community of people who are resident in this area.
“We also wanted to focus specifically on wellbeing, particularly for vulnerable people, those suffering with dementia or are lonely, or more advanced in years, and for the health and welfare of people dealing with or recovering from addictions.”
Councillors unanimously voted to support the plans, with Roger Hunneman (Lib Dem, Wash Common) saying: “It warrants upgrading. It’s a very lucrative site, they’re going to support a lot of organisations and try and encourage the use of it.
“To actually support the plans is an understatement.”
The main part of the church – built in 1989 – will be retained, but the rest of it will be demolished to make way for a two-storey extension.
There will be a new access from Mayor’s Lane, in addition to the existing entrance from Cheap Street.
The 16 parking spaces outside the church will be lost, but some disabled parking will remain.
In the main part of the church, the worship space will be switched to the opposite side.
The design of the new building will also be carbon neutral.
The church hopes to be able to start the project next summer and wants to have the building finished by the end of 2021 to tie in with the completion of the adjacent Market Street development.
So far, just under £1.1m has been raised through donations and the sale of property and the church is now hoping more organisations will come forward to help fund the rest.
To find out more about the project or to donate money to help the church reach its target, visit www.newburybaptistchurch.org/Buildproject