A MAJOR scheme to modernise and expand the use of a town-centre church is moving forward, according to those spearheading the project.

A voluntary steering group began examining potential improvements to the layout, and facilities on offer, at St Andrew's Church in Keighley nearly five years ago so the building could meet the future needs of the congregation and wider community.

The pandemic slowed progress on the initiative.

But the Church on the Green Neighbourhood Foundation – the charity established to oversee the redevelopment of St Andrew's, also known as Keighley Shared Church – says that during the past six months, "a growing momentum has emerged".

Halliday Clark, of Ilkley, has been appointed as architect.

Trustees of the Church on the Green Neighbourhood Foundation, and steering group members, have reviewed three options for a potential concept design. The third option is currently on view in the church, and it's hoped a preferred design will be confirmed by the end of the year.

Greg Thomson, foundation chair, says: "The congregation is regularly updated on progress and members have the opportunity to come together on the third Saturday morning of each month to pray in the space, the building, as the journey continues.

"Congregational involvement will continue to grow, and a research group has recently begun the task of identifying potential sources of funding for a capital project of this nature and size.

"Although the major fundraising will not start until 2024, the trustees have recently, and unexpectedly, had the opportunity to submit an application for a significant sum. If successful, it would allow the start of stage one to be brought forward.

"There have also been developments in personnel, with the trustees making a voluntary appointment of an individual with many years' experience in marketing. This will enable the message of the journey to be shared with the business and corporate sector locally, regionally and nationally. Hopefully, new partnerships can be established as a result of this initiative.

"Not only does St Andrew’s Church need a building fit for purpose as a place for Christian worship, but Keighley needs an enhanced venue for social and community activity.

"The journey we are on will take a few more years yet to complete but we believe the legacy will be worth it, providing the hub church in Keighley and the wider town with a venue fit for purpose well into the next century."