A THRIVING church hopes to move into new premises because its existing site is filled to capacity during services and youth activities.

The Christian Life Centre regularly attracts 600 people to services and events at its main church building in Woodham Way, Woodham, near Newton Aycliffe.

Sunday worship has become so popular that it hosts two family services in the morning and an evening service.

And youth groups, including Planet Youth for 11 to 25-year-olds and Planet Kids club for primary school-aged children, both have about 200 members.

Church leaders want to move into premises that can cope with the large congregations it attracts from across County Durham and Stockton.

Spokesman Julian Clark said: "It is an exciting time. We are going from strength to strength and the best way to build on that and reach more of the community is with bigger premises.

"It is early days, but we would like to think we could have somewhere ready, or at least lined up, in 2007.

"We want to stay local, in or around Newton Aycliffe or on Aycliffe Industrial Estate, and estimate it would cost about £1m."

The church, which was established in 1967, moved to Woodham Way in the late 1980s, but in less than two decades it has outgrown the main building, despite an extension.

The church also owns an office building, called Hope House, to accommodate staff, hold meetings and training sessions and to store equipment.

These sites and other assets are likely to be sold to generate cash towards the relocation, which would be boosted by donations and grants, if secured.

Members have raised £100,000 this year, which has helped to clear debt on Hope House and would go towards plans for a new building.

Mr Clark said: "We've moved, extended and spread out but we are now at the point that we need a bigger facility again.

"A move wouldn't just be good for existing and future members of the church but for the community, as we hold events and clubs.

"In particular, we could expand our Community VIP Days when we help local people in need."