Church set for £540k revamp

jpco 11-2-15 Crawley United Reformed Churches Rev Bridget Banks with volunteers. The church has received a �12,100 grant from West Sussex County Council to enable them to start phase one of a major building project. (Pic by Jon Rigby)
jpco 11-2-15 Crawley United Reformed Churches Rev Bridget Banks with volunteers. The church has received a �12,100 grant from West Sussex County Council to enable them to start phase one of a major building project. (Pic by Jon Rigby)

A council grant has enabled Crawley United Reformed Church to proceed with its regeneration project.

The church in Worth Park Avenue, Pound Hill, is trying to raise around £540,000 to carry out essential work including upgrading its heating, kitchen and toilet facilities and make the building watertight.

Members have already raised more than £350,000, but a £12,100 grant from West Sussex County Council has made all the difference.

Derek Russell, who leads the regeneration team, said: “It finally means we can commence phase one of the project. Our start date is March 2.

“The first phase will be the remodelling of the sanctuary. All the vestibule will be knocked down and a brand new access for the whole premises will be built.

“That will be visible from the carpark. It will have a gold coloured frontage so it will be obvious where the entrance is.”

Minister Rev Bridget Banks said: “When this came through, it was amazing. It’s lifted so much weight.

“We’ve been planning this for a really long time. People have been so generous in their giving and their time. We want to be a building for everybody and we can now get on with it. People will know who we are.

“We are really, really delighted. It’s been amazing.

“We thought it was going to be regeneration of the church building, but we as a community are being regenerated.

“We are doing lots of new things and that makes you really excited.”

Nearly 500 people use the church building every week, including Worth Play School and Crawley Open House homelessness charity, which runs a night shelter there.

The project, which was given planning permission more than a year ago will ensure the church fully complies with Ofsted requirements by having a self contained play area.

With a new kitchen they will be able to provide hot meals for the homeless.

The work will also involve making the building more disabled friendly with a lift, wider fire exits and a reliable sound and hearing loop system.