A NORTH-EAST architect is working on plans to refurbish a church to accommodate its growing congregation.

Gradon Architecture, based in Gateshead, has put forward designs to transform Seaham Methodist Church, in County Durham.

Bosses say the 1970s brick building lacks space for the church's weekly community groups, and have proposals to increase space, create a timber pergola to enhance the entrance, and fit new lighting and glass partitions.

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The Reverend Gill McBride, a Minister at Seaham Methodist Church, said: “Operating many of our church activities out of just one dedicated room has been increasingly challenging.

“We’re delighted by the design vision put forward, and at a time when other community buildings are closing, these proposals will help secure our position in the community for the future.”

Graham McDarby, Gradon design director, added: “Despite being a real community asset, the church’s unconventional 1970s design and layout has meant it has not been able to function as it was intended for some time.

“We believe our vision will help to make the church sustainable for the future.”

The proposals have been submitted to planning authorities and if approved, the church must raise enough money for the project to proceed.

Last month, Gradon revealed it had designed homes for 50 energy-efficiency homes in Mongolia, capable of protecting residents against temperatures as low as -30C.