Community groups can look forward to improved facilities as building work gets under way at St Gabriel’s Church in Popley.
The much-used community hall is set to double in size and gain a flat roof extension after the church received a £400,000 funding boost from Basingstoke and Deane District Council.
More than 750 people currently attend meetings held at the church hall, ranging from baby and toddlers, to youth, social and senior groups. When the work is completed, they will be able to expand their membership and use the new community café, better toilet facilities and large meeting rooms.
With the population set to grow with new housing developments in nearby North Popley, Popley East, Limes Park and Rooksdown, the church’s extension will provide much-needed extra space and further amenities to meet local people’s needs.
The church aims to promote the improved community space and increase activity by a further 50 per cent.
The first phase of the improvements will double the size of the existing hall and include the construction of a flat-roofed extension with improved disabled access, a larger kitchen, new toilets with disabled and baby change facilities, more storage and new meeting rooms, while the second phase will see a permanent community café in the foyer.
The borough council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement Cllr Robert Tate said: “It is great to see work begin on extending the community hall facilities at St Gabriel’s Church in Popley.
“This project has been funded by the council’s Local Infrastructure Fund and is highly-anticipated by local community groups who will benefit greatly from the improvements that are being made.
“The community hall is very accessible to the whole community, and will now provide even more opportunities to local clubs and organisations to expand their membership. The Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, for instance, have a waiting list and would welcome additional space to accommodate more members.
“It will also allow new community-driven activities, such as dance or martial arts, to be introduced and will provide amenities to help young people develop their social and community skills.”
The Reverend Arthur Botham said: “We are delighted that the building works have begun and excited at the prospect of their completion and launch to our community. We are grateful to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and their unstinting support through the Local Infrastructure Fund for this vital community project.”
The building work is part of a three phase project – in the final phase, the church plans to extend its worship area to accommodate up to 200 people.