A church which has been looking for a new home for 40 years has been granted permission to build a custom-designed new building.
Pastors said it was a ‘memorable and historic day’ for the New Life Church, whose new place of worship at the corner of Fulbeck Avenue and Fulbeck Way was unanimously approved by Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee last Wednesday.
The design of the ‘high-quality landmark building’, which includes a 250-seat auditorium, won universal praise from councillors.
Councillor Paul Yallop said the building was ‘stunning’ while councillor Alex Harman said: “This design is a lot more attractive than the current site.”
The south-west corner of the building will feature a modern interpretation of an angel’s body, leading councillor Hazel Thorpe to refer to it as ‘the angel of the south’.
Philip Amos, senior pastor at the church, told the committee the church’s existing buildings in Salvington Road and Greenland Road were between 50 and 100 years old and ‘tired and worn out’.
Two further planning applications to redevelop these sites for residential use have been submitted by the church and will be considered by the committee separately.
These schemes would fund 60 per cent of the cost of the new building, Mr Amos said.
Pastor Paul Hammond, who also spoke at the meeting, gave councillors examples of the work the church does in the community – including running a holiday club in the summer, serving lunch to around 80 elderly people every Christmas and giving advice to people struggling with debt.
He said: “For anyone who comes to our door, no matter who they are, we will help them in any way we can.
“Whatever problem it may be – that’s what a church does.”
Councillor Edward Crouch said of the pastors: “They give a fantastic account of what an institution like this can bring to the community.
“I think it’s a fantastic addition to the area.”
Councillor Nicola Waight raised concerns over the parking provision at the site, which includes 40 car parking spaces, motorcycle and cycle parking.
The pastors said the church had a car sharing scheme and other councillors alluded to the ‘very large car park’ at the Tesco Express nearby.
After the meeting, Mr Hammond said of the decision: “We are very pleased. It’s been a long time coming.”
He said the new church, which will also have space for four meeting rooms, offices and a children’s play area, will be used for activities such as toddler groups.
Mr Hammond hopes the planning applications for the church’s existing sites will be considered in August.
The church will still need to fundraise £4million to cover the remaining cost of the new building.
He said the church’s 150-strong congregation had been very generous, adding: “Our people are amazing the way they have given to enable us to get as far as we have got.”
Mr Hammond hopes there will be spades in the ground at the new site, which is close to the new development in West Durrington, in April, 2019.