PLANS to refurbish a Teesdale church have gone back to the drawing board to be scaled down.

Four years ago, planning permission was granted for the remodelling of Middleton-in-Teesdale Methodist Church, but no further action was taken.

Revised plans were recently drawn up to focus on the redevelopment of the church hall and the two-storey link building that joins it to the church building.

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Under the new proposals, the unused church would be sold.

Meanwhile, a neighbouring manse has been sold as a private residence to provide part-funding of the new scheme.

The chapel was built in 1870 and is located at the heart of Middleton-in-Teesdale’s conservation area, of which it is considered a key part.

It was constructed in the typical format of Methodist places of worship from that era, with panelled entrance lobby, galleried worship space and a substantial hall and Sunday school facilities at the back of the building.

The two main elements are connected by a two-storey link unit with vestry and meeting room on the ground floor and a caretaker’s flat on the upper level, which is accessed independently.

The application seeks to remodel the Sunday school and hall’s interior and link building, with the addition of a small entrance foyer, which would be constructed in materials to match and blend with those already used on the premises.

The roofs would be stripped, re-slated and fully insulated.

Fascia boards would also be stripped and renewed and timber windows would be replaced with double-glazed units.

Separate parking areas for the former worship building and church centre would be created in the forecourt garden area at the site.

A document within the planning application submitted to Durham County Council stated: “The worship space gallery was deemed surplus to requirements in the 1970s and has been isolated since then by the installation of a suspended ceiling at balcony level.

“The caretaker’s flat has been unoccupied for some ten years.

“The exterior of the church element is to remain unmodified, save perhaps for some localised remedial works.

“The plan is that it (the church) be offered for sale for future redevelopment by others but subject to an entirely separate planning application."