Church’s £1.5 million plans approved by planners

Leaders of a Carlisle church are delighted that their ambitious plans for a £1.5m development have been approved by city planners.

The Rev'd Sue WicksChurch authorities had given full approval to the scheme at St Elisabeth’s in Harraby and now it has been confirmed that planning permission has been granted by Carlisle City Council.

The focus of Parochial Church Council members at St Elisabeth’s and vicar Rev’d Sue Wicks now turns to raising the funds needed to turn the plans into reality.

The development will include a new drop-in community cafe, sports hall/function room, showering facilities and accessible toilets. It will link to the existing worship area.

The grounds of the popular church, which regularly attracts in the region of 150 people to its family Sunday services, will also be landscaped to make them more attractive and safer to use.

It has taken several years of research and planning to reach this important milestone.

The Rev’d Sue Wicks, vicar of St Elisabeth’s, said: “This is an exciting development as we look to continue to grow as a church family and as a community in our parish.

“Harraby is seeing investment in community and other facilities and our development will play its part in that growth. It is also an opportunity for us to help change lives for the better and continue in our mission to support those around us.”

She added: “We must thank the team at Architects Plus who are providing us with their expert, professional support throughout this process.”

The redevelopment will lead to the loss of the church’s existing bell tower, which has not been used for a number of years. It is not water tight and has cost tens of thousands of pounds to maintain in recent years.

The church council and authorities have pledged to make every effort to ensure that the bells in the tower will be either used in another church or are stored safely.

They believe it is more important to have an actively used centre serving the local community rather than maintaining an inadequate building which does not serve a practical purpose.

St Elisabeth’s Church currently offers a range of activities that have grown and need more space.

Its popular children's groups include Betty Bear for the under-fives as well as Beavers, Cubs and Scouts for 5-16 year olds. There is also a weekly drop-in for coffee and tea, monthly coffee mornings and regular social functions.

Members of the congregation also donate to the Carlisle Foodbank regularly and St Elisabeth’s Church and its supporters have recently raised more than £8,000 to help flood victims in the parish and across the wider area.

Now church leaders will explore funding options to raise the money needed for building work to commence.

Recent fundraising efforts of churchgoers, lay members and clergy have included a long-distance walk in Ireland, raising over £1,800 towards the development fund.

Patrons of the ambitious project are businessman Andrew Bailey; The Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Claire Hensman; Lady Inglewood; Lord Inglewood; The Bishop of Carlisle, The Rt Revd James Newcome; The Venerable Kevin Roberts, who was until recently Carlisle Archdeacon; Harraby city councillor Lee Sherriff and John Stevenson MP.

St Elisabeth’s Church was built and consecrated as a new church in 1967.

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For further information please contact Rev’d Sue Wicks on 07772 904666 or 01228 596427 or Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager on 07469 153658, 01228 815401 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.