A ROW over an extension at the Headington church where fantasy author CS Lewis worshipped looks set to continue, despite a new ruling.

Plans for an extension at Grade II-listed Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry were backed by vicar Tim Stead.

He was in favour of the new building to house a disabled toilet, crèche and kitchenette, but some members of the congregation were bitterly opposed to the plans and the Holy Trinity Preservation Group said the scheme should be abandoned.

Now, on behalf of the Consistory Court of the Oxford Diocese, the Rev Alexander McGregor, in his role as a judge of the matter, has decided the extension should go ahead.

He noted that planning permission had been granted for the extension and added that the current facilities offered by the church were ‘deficient’.

In his judgement he said: “In the church there is just a small area at the west end where children can be accommodated.

“The existing on-site facilities are limited to a very small vestry that has to be shared by the clergy and the choir and one lavatory, which is not easily accessible.”

Rev McGregor added that the church required ‘decent facilities for a kitchen, a creche/ meeting room, a vestry and an accessible lavatory on site.

“That is simply a standard, reasonable expectation for any busy church today.”

However Jennifer Carpenter, chairwoman of the preservation group, said the fight was not yet over, despite the ruling.

She added: “We are disappointed by this ruling and we are still hoping the extension will not go ahead.

“We don’t think the enormous cost, possibly £500,000 or more, is justified and I personally don’t see how it is going to increase the size of the congregation.

“Money would be better spent rebuilding the existing vestry.”

CS Lewis, who died in 1963, is buried in the churchyard but his grave would not be affected by the plans.

The extension site directly affects one grave, that of Cyril Frederick Coppock who was buried in 1975 and was an ex-serviceman in the First World War, along with his wife Florence, buried in 1980, who was a domestic servant.

Calls were made previously to complete a survey to check for any unmarked graves that could be disturbed by the project but the church said it would not be carrying one out.

Rev McGregor said he did not accept that building the extension over burial ground was a ‘desecration’.

He added: “The proposed extension will rest on pile foundations, avoiding the need for excavation.”

The reverend, referred to as Chancellor of the Consistory Court, said objections regarding the setting for a CS Lewis memorial window did not ‘carry any weight’.

He added that the window would now be lit from a skylight in the extension and would no longer need to be protected by a steel grill which ‘significantly detracts from its aesthetic quality’.

Rev Stead, who was vicar at the church for 10 years until he left in April to ‘go freelance’, said he was pleased with the Oxford Diocese court ruling.

He added: “We reduced the plans considerably due to concerns.”