A plan to build a major new hall complex at an Armagh church have been given the local council’s blessing.
Armagh Free Presbyterian Church had submitted a planning application for the project – at a cost in the region of £550,000 – last October.
It will see the building of a new church hall – together with all required site works and parking provision – just off Georges Street in the city.
The Free Presbyterian Church was founded by Dr Ian Paisley, the Moderator, who was born in Armagh, and this was his first church.
The origins of the Free Presbyterian Church were born out a gospel mission held in Armagh in 1965, a move away from the mainstream Protestant churches as a result of the perceived growth of ecumenism.
The first church was a temporary wooden structure on the Mall, but a new site was acquired in 1972, with Dr Paisley cutting the sod on the new building the following year.
It took almost two years to construct and the Moderator presided at the official opening of the Armagh Free Presbyterian Church building on January 4, 1975.
Given the nature of the site on an extreme slope, the main church building is accommodated on the upper of two levels. A church hall at present can be found at the lower level with a capacity for 120.
The present floorspace consists of a total of 519 sq metres of floor space. This development would add an additional 606 sq metres to the church facilities, more than doubling its capacity with a floor space of 1,120 sq metres.
The church halls would include, among other things, a main hall, toilet provision and creche facilities.
The architect behind the plans is the Armagh-based Cornett Design Associates.
The application has been considered by planning officials and presented to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, where councillors accepted the opinion to approve the plans.
The need to expand has been evident for some considerable time, with outline planning approval having been granted in the summer of 2014.
The approval for the full plans will now allow work to get underway.