Newry baptists given council blessing to convert electrical store into church
A former electrical store in Newry will be transformed into a church after council planners gave the project the green light.
Murphy's Electrical store, which had been based on Catherine Street in the city since 1972, closed its doors five months ago.
Last month, Newry Baptist Church submitted plans to transform the 5,640 sq ft site into a place of worship.
They have now been given the go-ahead by planners from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, who felt the church would "help support and sustain a vibrant town centre".
While older church buildings being renovated to accommodate new businesses is not uncommon, converting a business premises into a church is rare.
According to the proposals, the ground floor of the two-storey building will include a large worship area, a creche, a social space and a Sunday School room.
Newry Baptist Church was founded nearly 130 years ago and is understood to have been looking for a permanent space for worship for several years, as the congregation has grown with large numbers of Polish parishioners joining the church.
The proposals attracted a response during the neighbour notification period, from Casey & Casey Solicitors, who are also based on Catherine Street.
The practice said it would "fully support the application" and they are "look forward to welcoming the church to Catherine Street".
A spokesperson for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council said it receives applications for "both the conversion of churches into commercial premises and shops, industrial units and office space to be converted for the use as churches".
Some church-to-business conversions have generated a degree of controversy in Northern Ireland.
In January, residents in south Belfast reacted angrily to City Hall planners giving the green light to a £3m proposal to turn Windsor Baptist Church into an apartment block.
Earlier this week, the Belfast Telegraph also revealed Maxol Oil is planning to build a new £6m service station in Newry.
And Shelbourne Motors are planning on bringing a new £5m showroom in the city, which will create 60 jobs.