A Crawley church hopes to raise £1.1million to refurbish its building and make it fit for the future.
St Mary’s CofE Church in Southgate has received planning permission to build a new entrance with a mezzanine floor, new roof and new windows.
The first phase of the work, which includes the roofing, windows and floor heating, insulation and the electrics, will start this year.
The church will also be installing a lift and relocating the parish office to the front of the building as part of the work.
Rector Rev Tim Wilson said: “This has served the community very well since 1958, but it’s showing its age and it needs refurbishing to serve the community for the rest of the century.
“It’s a unique 1950s building and locally listed and part of the conservation area in Southgate. It’s unusual.
“It will make it a flexible and welcoming area.”
He said they would do this by carpeting the foyer, where they run a cafe. The large floor to ceiling wooden doors, which separate the foyer from the main worship area, will be replaced with glass.
Chairman of the building committee Martin Hayward added: “We are very keen to open the church up. By opening up the foyer, people will be able to look through both levels into the main church.”
The church was built as part of Crawley New Town in 1958 and last year Crawley Borough Council listed the building as having local importance.
Rev Wilson explained it was an answer to prayer when they were considering demolishing the building instead of refurbishing it.
He said: “We didn’t know which to do. St Andrew’s did it - pulled it down and started again. We wondered if we should be doing that.
“We had an evening praying for guidance and the following day we got a letter from the council. We realised it wasn’t the right thing to do.”
The church hopes to raise most of the money through the generosity of its members and will also be giving ten per cent of the funds to other Christian projects in this country and abroad.
They have already raised £7,000 to go towards a project by Kids Alive International to build a children’s village for orphaned children in Zambia.