A CITY-CENTRE church is halfway to reaching its £1m target for a major redevelopment.

It is hoped the work on the Wesley Memorial Church in New Inn Hall Street could begin this year if the group behind the project can secure further funding.

As part of the church’s Open Doors Redevelopment Project, the existing community rooms will be refurbished and a new glazed entrance will be built including a large reception and kitchen.

Cumnor resident Derek Rawson is chairman of the project steering group.

He said: “We have already got more than £500,000 and we have put applications in to external trusts.

“We are hoping development will start later on this year but at the moment we are waiting to see the outcome of these applications.

“Under the Methodist Church’s rules we cannot start work until we have got 80 per cent of the funding.

“We don’t want to borrow a lot of money and get into debt so we are being prudent.”

The money which has already been raised has come from a series of grants and donations after the church launched an appeal for cash in the Oxford Mail in December, 2010.

New Inn Hall Street has been a home to Methodists for centuries with Oxford’s first meeting house, where the movement’s founder John Wesley preached in the 18th century, located further up the road.

As the city’s methodists grew in number they moved to the site of the current church, which was completed in 1878 and sits on the old city walls.

The church has had planning permission for the redevelopment since 2010.

Mr Rawson said: “In the 1980s we did some renovation work to the church because we found the premises weren’t being used as much as they could have been so we did some experiments which included putting in another kitchen.

“What we are now trying to do is make the experiment more permanent.

“The building is used by Rainbow House, which is an organisation for the under fives, and on Wednesdays we serve coffee to the elderly.

“One person recently told me the church is an oasis of calm in the middle of the city.”

The church is also home to a number of other groups such as a youth club for the disabled.

  • To find out more information and to donate towards the Wesley Memorial Church redevelopment campaign visit wesleymem.org.uk