Proposals for a new cafe and community facilities at a historic Washington church have been lodged with planning chiefs.
In May, Sunderland City Council received a planning application to redevelop Saint George’s Church in Vigo Lane, Fatfield.
The plans include a single-storey extension with a new entrance foyer and canopy, multi-purpose room and cafe space.
A Design and Access statement, prepared by Howarth Litchfield Architects, outlines the reasons for the project.
This includes boosting catering facilities, providing a larger community space for events and creating a new entrance for the congregation at the northern edge of the church.
The planning report reads: “The church is well subscribed and the current provision for catering and community activities is struggling to cope with the demand.
“The client therefore approached Howarth Litchfield to prepare designs for a new entrance foyer, community café and multi-purpose space together with ancillary support accommodation in the form of new WCs and kitchen facilities.
“One of the client’s key requirements was for the new community space to be able to operate outside of the church operating times to enable users to access the building for varying events whilst still maintaining the security of the church.
“In addition, the client’s wish was for a welcoming space to encourage all to experience and use the church.”
The report goes on to say: “The proposals submitted within this application seek to provide an approachable, welcoming and versatile entrance space and community hub to relieve some of the pressure on the internal space of the existing church.
“The new pavilion has been sensitively designed with materials selected to complement the architecture of the church whilst providing a lightweight contemporary solution.”
Founded in 1879, St George’s Church has been serving the community for more than 140 years.
Subject to approval, the new space would create opportunities for people to meet and space for a regular youth club.
Other potential uses could include community groups, lunch clubs and training opportunities, alongside developing and expanding services which already take place at the church.
Church bosses have also launched a fundraising drive for the project which can be found here: www.stgeorgeshistoryandfuture.co.uk/support.html
Council planners are expected to rule on the church extension by the end of August.
Article Content By Chris Binding – Sunderland Echo