Plans for a new hall at a north-east church with a growing congregation have been approved by council officials.
Christ Church, in Kincardine O’Neil, lodged plans for the new building earlier this year, citing inadequate facilities.
The small Episcopal church had no toilets, meeting space or kitchen – but has seen a 70% increase in the size of its congregation over the last four years.
The decision to approve the proposals, which was made by planners at Aberdeenshire Council, marks another step towards the end of an 18-year campaign by churchgoers.
A number of improvements have been made to the existing church building, which was built in 1866, over the last 20 years.
Setting out the reasons for approving the plans, Aberdeenshire Council said: “The planning authority considers that the application is for a development that is in accordance with the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2017.
“The proposal involves the construction of a community building which is of an appropriate layout, siting and design for the location adjacent to a Category C Listed Building and within Kincardine O’Neil Conservation Area, in accordance with Policy HE1: Protecting historic buildings, sites, and monuments, Policy HE2: Protecting historic and cultural areas and Policy P6 Community infrastructure.”
The new hall will house a kitchen, toilets and a community area once it is completed.
The inclusion of hand-washing facilities has been seen as particularly important amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Documents submitted alongside the application read: “While many churches across the country have seen a decline in their congregations over the past number of years, Christ Church has experienced the opposite – a small but very active and growing congregation with 119 people attending the Christmas carol service in 2019 and 91 attending the Christmas Day service.
“This has driven the need to have modern facilities in order to maintain and encourage the congregation to flourish and attract community user groups and encourage young members to be involved.”