THE CONGREGATION of a city-centre church has decided to push ahead with plans to turn the building into a community centre.

Central Methodist Church on St Saviourgate in York has been looking at plans to open the building up to community use, and now the managing trustees have voted to pursue that for the Grade II* listed building rather than let it close altogether.

Church steward Ian Miller said: "I’m really excited that we can share our buildings with the wider community and make them more sustainable at the same time. I hope that those who use the transformed premises may discover something of our Christian way of life."

The vote took place on Thursday, after two years of research into how the large chapel and its ancillary buildings could be conserved and adapted for modern use.

A spokesman said the congregation saw the building, which has 22,500 sq ft of space, as a precious asset to be shared with the community at large, but it has previously struggled to meet the maintenance costs.

York Press: Central Methodist Church Exterior

Central Methodist Church

Now the plans are to incorporate well-equipped halls and meeting rooms in various sizes; office space for organisations working with vulnerable people; full disabled access; a welcoming reception; protection and enhancement of the space used by Carecent, improvements to the streetscape; and community café aimed at families incorporating soft play space.

York Press:

FLASHBACK: The Church's facade, in the centre, is more visible in this 1963 photograph, taken shortly before Stonebow House was built

So far the Methodist district has invested £105,000 preparing for the project, and the local church has spent more £25,000 on improvements to the buildings. it could also be in line for up to £100,000 from the developers on the Hungate site.

The total costs are expected to be over £3 million and the next 12 months will be spent developing partnerships with other organisations on how the project can progress.

York Press:

A meeting of the Women's Network of Methodist Church Districts at the building in 2002

In the meantime a range of organisations will continue to rent the existing office space and halls. Current users of the premises include the Kyra women’s project, Carecent, York Chocolate Story, Salvation Army early intervention project, York Musical Society, York Philharmonic Choir, Prima Vocal choir, and several visiting school groups.

  • The church will host a free "Sing Along Carol Concert" at 3.30pm on Tuesday, December 22. It will be preceded by a café from 1.30pm giving people chance to see the premises.