A CHURCH in the heart of Andover will be closed until Christmas whilst it undergoes renovations to become inclusive and "accessible to everybody".

Andover Methodist Church on Bridge Street will be closed for the next nine weeks whilst it undergoes a wide-ranging refit, including the addition of a new accessible toilet and a lift.

The church's minister, Reverend Andy Fitchet has pledged to "change Andover through being a community of love, hope and justice", saying the redevelopment will build on the work the church has been doing since 1906.

Revd Fitchet told The Advertiser: "The main priority is to make every area accessible to everybody. At the moment we have got some areas accessible to some people.

"We want to make this space as accessible to everyone as possible. This is wider than just Sunday worship.

"Whether you are coming to alcoholics or drugs anonymous or a craft workshop at the weekend, at the moment it is limited to those who are able bodied.

"We are slightly nervous but very excited!"

As well as the accessible toilet and lift, the completely flat main hall will have a new kitchen area so three different groups can use the space independently.

Revd Fitchet added: "Our vision is to have our building open throughout the week to offer a space for town chaplaincy (like Street Pastors but during the day!) and offer multi-agency working so that we can not only provide a space for people to come and be, tackling loneliness and social isolation, but also access help they might need from partner agencies.

"Our vision is to change Andover, through being a community of love, hope and justice.

"With our building being redeveloped and making it fully accessible we know what we can use the space more flexibly to build on the work we have been doing in the town since 1906."

The church building is scheduled to be out of action for nine weeks, and is due to be reopened just in time for Christmas.

In the mean time, Revd Fitchet says the church's services will be joined with the United Reformed Church in East Street.