AFTER standing proudly at the heart of a Lancashire village for more than 80 years, demolition is underway on a once-thriving Methodist church.
The building in Hesketh Bank, which has been empty for the past eight years, is being flattened to make way for a new combined chapel and church hall with a cafe.
Developers will also be building 14 affordable homes on part of the site in Chapel Lane.
The start of the project has been welcomed by the Methodist congregation in Hesketh Bank who have been using the old adjacent village hall since services ended in 2006.
West Lancashire Council gave the go-ahead for demolition last month and workmen moved in this week to begin taking down the delapidated and vandalised building.
Last year, when plans to replace it were first announced, Rev Kevin Jones said he hoped a new building would help the church “relaunch” in the village after years in their temporary home.
“In the past the church has been a real hub for the community,” he said. “But in the last three or four years we have not been able to serve the community the way we did in the past and many groups have gone elsewhere.
“I suppose we are looking for a relaunch. Without doing this the church would be in difficulty.”
Developers Regenda have been given planning permission to demolish both the church and the existing church hall at the rear and replace them with a new combined church building, together with a cafe, eight affordable houses and six affordable apartments.
The land is the site of an original Primitive Methodist chapel which was built in 1843 and at its height attracted up to 300 people to services.