A DESIRE to ‘better serve the needs of the local community’ is central to plans to make alterations and improvements to an Andover church.

Proposals have been submitted to Test Valley Borough Council outlining a range of “internal and external alterations” to Bridge Street Methodist Church.

The changes would make the church’s internal spaces “more useable” whilst also “improving the accessibility for users.”

Documents submitted in the application note that it has been over 20 years since the church’s last round of alterations and improvements.

Since then, a pre-application enquiry was submitted in March 2019 which in principle supported the proposals.

Those proposals include removing the steps and access ramp from the church’s front ‘vestibule’ space, which is currently described as “unusable”.

A glazed screen will then be installed between the ‘vestibule’ and the church’s main nave. This would “allowsmall groups to use the vestibule area whist larger gatherings are being held within the nave.”

The introduction of a side entrance, with disabled access, from the riverside would “provide a large and welcoming access to the rear of the church” to make it easier to use the two spaces independently.

It is also proposed to install a disabled WC within the lobby along with a coffee room which will serve both areas and a “vestry/counselling room”.

The application’s design and access statement concludes: “The church is an important facility in the area and is well attended. The proposal to improve the adaptability and flexibility of the accommodation will allow the church to better serve the needs of the Andover area and the local community.

“Improvements to access and facilities will not only benefit wheelchair users but also members of the baby and toddler groups.

“By allowing the space to be flexible, the church will be able to support the community further, providing greater facilities and activities.”

To view the application and its documents in full go to view-applications.testvalley.gov.uk/online-applications and search for the reference ‘19/02812/FULLN’.