A Stapleford church has officially broken ground on its new extension as it looks to accommodate an ever-growing congregation.
St Helen’s Church, on Frederick Road, held a well-attended ceremony to mark the start of building work on Sunday, March 18.
Mayor of Stapleford Councillor Chris Rice and the his deputy Councillor Bob Brown were joined by building contractors and members of the community to celebrate the moment as they plunged shovels into the snow-covered ground.
David Bassford, who has chaired the church committee on building the anexe, said: “It was a momentous occasion. So much planning has gone into getting us to this point, through all the issues with design and planning. It feels like a cork popping open. It’s really exciting.
“We’ve had very strong community support and hope this will be a landmark building for them. We want the people of Stapleford to be involved in it and feel like it’s theirs.”
The planning process for the building has been complicated by the church’s Grade II*-listed heritage status, and the need to gain approval from both church and local authority inspectors.
A firm of Nottingham architects pulled off the feat, with a design on the north side of the church which will create a cloister-style courtyard between the two buildings.
It will be built by Thomas and Sons Construction of Nottingham over the next six months, at a cost of around £300,000 – mostly donated by members of the congregation.
The decision to build the annexe was made in 2014, after a 40 per cent increase in church membership made the need for better hospitality facilities obvious.
The church was fully refurbished in 2008 but there was still no space for toilets or a kitchen, and so was forced to hire out a nearby youth centre for some of its activities.
David said: “We want the hospitality to be of a high standard, and for people to be happy coming here.
“Our current church hall is already oversubscribed, and this new building will give us a flexible space which can accommodate group meetings and events such as concerts.”
Town and borough councillor Richard MacRae was also at the ceremony, and said: “The annexe will allow more events to be organised at the church and be of great benefit to the wider community.
“As a member of the Broxtowe Borough planning committee, I was pleased to support the application.”