A CHURCH in Christchurch is set to expand with a second place of worship built next door to its existing site. 

Legal agreements have been finalised in the controversial plans for the new Christchurch Baptist Church building in Bargates.

The congregation already operates from a church at 49 Bargates but proposed a second building after “outgrowing the premises”.

The new church building is earmarked for 51 Bargates – used as offices and the opticians, Raxworthy.

This is set to be demolished to make space for the scheme, alongside a car park of around 20 spaces.

Church Minister Rev Chris Brockway said the new two-storey church will be larger and host the “majority” of services.

Bournemouth Echo: CGI of the proposed meeting space in the new churchCGI of the proposed meeting space in the new church (Image: DUA Architecture)

The existing building will move towards a “community facility” which Rev Brockway says will “benefit the people of Christchurch for decades to come”.

But not everyone in the town is convinced, with the scheme having received 67 objections since it was first made public.

Residents and elected leaders raised concerns which included the area becoming a “concrete jungle”, the loss of a car park and opticians, and how the second church would attract increased and illegal parking, and congestion.

One objection also suggested the scheme could create “bad feelings” between the church and local community.

One resident commented: "It would be appalling to demolish a historic Christchurch building and replace it with the proposed modern monstrosity."

Bournemouth Echo: CGI of proposed open foyer space in the new churchCGI of proposed open foyer space in the new church (Image: DUA Architecture)

Speaking during a planning meeting, Rev Brockway said he was “very willing” to work with residents to “help alleviate their concerns.”

While Christchurch Baptist Church has now been given the green light for a second site, a date has not yet been set for work to start.

The church has already covered the costs of buying the 51 Bargates site, but has provided an estimated figure of £2,000,000 for the rest of the project - which it will need to fundraise for.

Rev Brockway said he was “looking forward” for things to get moving.

He told the Daily Echo: “It’s really exciting.

“It’s been a long time in the waiting for us in the sense that we’ve been exploring what to do with our buildings for decades, so to get to the point where planning has been overwhelming granted is a real positive step.”