A Portadown-based church is planning to take a leap of faith and create a new ‘community hub’ in the town centre.
The Emmanuel Church, which had been located within the High Street Mall, have set their sights on a site to the rear of the town’s Toymaster store.
Proposals for the development, next to Portadown Hall, have been submitted to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
The location has previously had approval granted for retail purposes, but that two-storey development, which included a restaurant, never materialised.
The space now lies “empty and in disrepair”, according to papers submitted along with the Emmanuel Church’s application.
It reveals: “Emmanuel Church, Portadown, was until recently a church community with up to 120 adults and 60 children attending, 180 in all, worshipping within two units in High Street Mall on a Sunday morning.
“Presently the Mall is being redeveloped and the church is looking for a new home.
“Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, Emmanuel Church Portadown parishioners are worshipping remotely.
“The Edward Street church proposal is located close to the High Street Mall site and is also located in the heart of Portadown town centre.”
The church is seeking a change from retail sales and restaurant to a community hub.
This would consist of a church office, workshop room, multi-use rooms, coffee lounge – known as the Connect Cafe – and counselling centre.
There would also be an outdoor terrace, as well as a new approach and landscape works.
The submission adds: “As an aspiration it is hoped that the congregation size can increase once redevelopment takes place from a maximum of 200 existing persons up to a maximum of 270 persons.”
The application reveals the weekly schedule of activities would be “similar” to that previously at High Street Mall.
The proposals are due to be publicly advertised this week and a decision expected in due course.