Locks Heath church wants to expand to cope with 800 worshipers

PLANS An artist's impression of the proposed development
PLANS An artist's impression of the proposed development

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A CHURCH is asking for comments on its £4m extension plans.

Locks Heath Free Church wants to build a new annexe after its plans were turned down by planning officers last year.

The church, on Hunts Pond Road, would like to construct a 400-seat auditorium to cope with the hundreds of people who frequently use the building.

Senior minister Mark Madavan said: ‘We’ve got about 800 people coming through the doors each week. On a Sunday we’ve 300 plus at our Sunday services – we just don’t have enough room.

‘We want to expand our site so that we can better achieve what we do and do it in a better way.’

The church is also home to a youth club, two kids’ craft workshops, a mother and toddler group and old people’s drop-in and lunch services.

The minister said: ‘All of our rooms are quite small. We don’t have a larger sanctuary in which we can all meet in. At the moment we do three shifts on a Sunday to fit everybody in.’

Concerns were raised at the last application about the amount of parking at the site. The church hopes to have overcome this by purchasing land from Hampshire County Council which will be turned into a 155-space car park.

Residents nearby were also concerned by the noise that the new extended church would create.

Mr Madavan said: ‘The ironic thing is, if they allow this application to go through, the new building will be better insulated so any noise being created will be quieter.’

He added: ‘We are not asking to bring more people here, the crowds are already here. We are wanting to accommodate them better.’

The church is completely self-funded so the £4 million will come from fundraising and from parishioners’ pockets. More than 1,000 letters have been sent out to nearby residents. Two open days will be held at the church for people to view and comment on the plans.

The first is on Wednesday, June 5 from midday until 3pm and 6pm to 9pm. The second will be on Thursday, June 6 from 10am until 2pm.

A planning application will be submitted two weeks later.

Mr Madavan said that the church had tried to take on board previous objections.

He said: ‘We are being open and really want people to come along and chat with us and let us explain our plans.’