A historic Chorley church is set to be demolished – as plans have been revealed for a £600,000 revamp of its replacement.
Park Road Methodist Church, which dates back to 1842, closed its doors last year after attendance fell and the building became too costly to maintain.
The congregation joined forces with Trinity Methodist Church in Gillibrand Walks after the church council realised both churches may be forced to shut if numbers kept falling.
Now it wants to sell the Park Road building with planning permission to demolish it and replace it with seven houses, and the money will be used to refurbish the Trinity building.
Rev Andrew Mashiter, who was the minister for almost seven years, said: “It is a desperate shame to lose Park Road, but I’m afraid we have to be hard about this. We faced a dilemma because if we didn’t act, we could have lost everything, so we had to make the decision to leave Park Road and move to the bigger, more modern Trinity building.
“We don’t want to do the demolition work ourselves; we just want to get the permission so it will hopefully sell faster.”
Rev Mashiter admitted the decision ‘caused a lot of pain for some people at Park Road’ but added that people are now embracing the changes.
The new Chorley Methodist Church was formed at the Trinity site in June and has more than 200 members now, and ambitious plans have just been unveiled for a £630,000 redevelopment.
Rev Mashiter said: “It’s a very exciting time and we hope to create a conference centre and concert area for our choir.”
The plans include removing the pews to replace them with chairs, to allow more flexibility for events.
Work is expected to finish by the middle of 2013.