MEMBERS of a church which is propped up by wooden buttresses are hoping to find a more permanent solution to subsidence threatening its future.

Summertown United Reformed Church in Banbury Road has to rely on the six beams to support its porch or it will continue to sink into the ground.

The church was built in 1893, but subsidence means the porch is now separating itself from the main building and sinking.

A structural report into the church, carried out in 2005, concluded there was no alternative other than to demolish the existing porch.

Now members have come up with a plan they hope will also help open its doors to the community at the same time.

Because the current entrance makes it difficult for those in wheelchairs to access the building, the church has decided to design a completely new porch rather than recreate the original.

Minister Pauline Main said: “Until we put up the wooden beams we weren’t allowed to open the front door, so when I first came here in 2007 we had to go in through the church’s side entrance.

“The repairs need to be done and we want to open up the church. We will also improve the worship space so it can be used by the community.

“We have got lots of groups which use the back rooms so there is quite a lot of call for community use of the building.”

Mr Main said the church needs to raise £500,000 to allow the scheme to go ahead, of which about two thirds has already been raised from grants and an anonymous donation.

Portland Road resident Ian Scargill, one of the church’s elders, said: “The problem with the porch has prompted us to think about carrying out a more ambitious scheme which will involve renovating and modernising the building.

“It is getting worse and if the situation continued we wouldn’t be able to use the front of the church at all.

“You can now notice the cracks from the inside of the church and they are getting wider.”

A planning application has been submitted to Oxford City Council for the new scheme, which will be considered by officers.

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