Portsmouth church could see cafe built and car park turned into garden as part of revamp
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The Rev Annie McCabe has submitted a planning application to Portsmouth City Council to ‘transform’ the St Luke’s church car park into a garden and café in a bid to ‘improve the visual appeal of the building to be inviting and accessible’.
Should it be approved, the project would include the conversion of the existing church hall into the café by building a new porch while the car park would become the new ‘flexible’ community space.
‘These elements will work together to make St Luke’s feel more welcoming and less closed off from the surrounding neighbourhood, offering an invitation to the local community to come inside and see what St Luke’s has to offer,’ a statement submitted with the application says.
The Greetham Street church already hosts a number of community groups, including the Host Space co-working facility, the Refugee Hub and a community choir. Alongside this, it is used for clubs and classes not directly organised by the church and is one of several warm spaces in the city.
But it said the revamp would help expand this work by making the new garden available as a space for events and by introducing the café.
Despite the loss of the car park to make way for the garden, council transport officer Robert Neave did not object to the application.
‘Whilst the proposal would remove car parking spaces, given the availability of car parks in the local vicinity, it is not considered that this loss would result in increase parking pressure that would harm the function of the highway,’ his consultation response said.
The council has set a deadline of Thursday, February 23 for reaching a decision on the application which was submitted just before Christmas.
Three years ago this month, the church unveiled a refurbishment project that saw The Host Space opened – a shared working space with upcycled furniture. It saw a coffee bar, high-speed wifi, and meeting spaces put in, with 19th century pews taken apart by carpenters and turned into conference tables.