A former pub which has stood empty for several years is to be given a new lease of life as a community church.
The site of The Wellington, in Bedford Road, Kempston, was bought by the New Life Christian Fellowship three years ago and plans to transform the building have just been given the go-ahead.
The pub site, which extends to about a quarter of an acre, was purchased for £240,000 in a project made possible by a group of local people.
Church pastor, Piara Bhatti, says the scheme is designed to provide a new church for the congregation at present of around 120, plus facilities where community groups can meet and local events held.
The plans made will see the existing former pub building transformed into the community facilities, while the New Life church will be created through a new building adjacent.
The site will have room for parking and the old pub will also have upstairs space for offices.
Piara said: “It is likely that by the time we have finished we will spend another £600,000 to £700,000.”
As well as community facilities at the new church, on the corner of Marne Street and Bedford Road, the congregation also helps out in other ways, such as gardening for those less able.
The New Life Christian Fellowship members have been worshipping at the Southend Methodist Church in Ampthill Road for a number of years, but needed to find a new home.
A mainly Asian congregation, the services will be given in both English and Punjabi, but Piara said all are welcome to join the congregation.
Kempston Labour Councillor James Valentine said: “By supporting this local church, I believe we are helping breathe new life into a building that has stood derelict for far too long.”
Fellow Labour Councillor Mohammad Nawaz added: “The Pastor and his congregation want the church to be at the heart of the community and have put huge efforts into providing a sustainable transport plan.”
The New Life Christian Fellowship has been running for about 40 years, and Piara has been pastor for about 10 years, having been an assistant previously. A group of elders manages the church.
Piara added: “Our local councillors have been very helpful to our project through the planning stages.”