PLANNING permission has been granted for a new church hall for Kilkeel Baptist Tabernacle.
The proposed hall is to be situated to the back of the existing church on the Newcastle Road and have a foyer area linked to both buildings.
According to a description within the Design and Access statement, the scheme has been “designed to meet the current and future needs of the congregation”.
It will include a multi-purpose/ sports hall, accessible toilets and shower facilities, creche, a youth room with coffee/ tea-making facilities and storage rooms.
“The fellowship believes this proposed will bring social and economic benefits for the church family and wider community by providing enhanced facilities which they intend to use to encourage young people in particular to engage with a caring and compassionate church... to help them build meaningful relationships and equip them for living in today’s world”.
The Baptist Church congregation was founded in Kilkeel in 1866 and by 1932 a prominent site on the Newcastle Road was procured.
A church was built on the site and opened on Easter Saturday 1933. During 1972 the front of the church building received a facelift and later an extension added to the back of the building due to the increasing congregation.
Then in 1997 a new church building was built opposite the old church which is still used for youth club meetings on Saturday nights.
The aim is to centralise all facilities on one site. At present, the old church is used for Saturday night youth club with the Baptist Tabernacle for Sunday worship. This means church activities are split and taking place on two sites on opposite sides of the main Newcastle Road.
Planners on Newry, Mourne and Down District Council recommended approving the application.
In their remarks on the planning bid, the report read: “These proposals represent a very significant investment in and commitment to the local community by Kilkeel Baptist Tabernacle. It is believed the proposals are beneficial for church continuation and are designed to meet the current needs of the congregation.
“The proposals are the result of careful consideration by the church membership, over an extended period, and careful consideration has been given to how the fellowship might reach out to the community by providing a facility where supervised activities can take place in a safe environment and where our young people can learn to build relationships and respect for one another thereby helping equip them for living in today’s world.”