Living Hope Church has been given the go-ahead for a new place of worship in Douglas.

The planning committee unanimously approved the application by Living Hope Community Church Ltd (23/01200/B) to convert a former music shop on Finch Road into a new base for its ‘Douglas AM’ congregation.

This congregation has been without a permanent site or home since it was established in 2008 and currently meets on a Sunday morning in the Palace Cinema.

The average weekly attendance is about 250.

Living Hope says Removals House will become the new Douglas AM home, providing an open-to-all place of worship.

The building has had many different uses over the last 40 years including a furniture shop, lighting shop, gym and more recently a music shop but is currently in a dilapidated state.

David Baker, of Living Hope, told that planning committee at its meeting on Monday, that the new place of worship would have no significant impact on the amenity of local residents and the church was confident it would make a positive contribution to the community.

No off-road parking will be provided at the Finch Road church and instead members of the community will be asked to use the nearby Chester Street car park.

The place of worship’s assembly hall will have 300 seats and the building as a whole including the other function rooms could accommodate a maximum of 400-500 people.

No strict opening hours are proposed, meaning the site could in theory open 24/7, including weekends and public holidays, although the report of the planning officer pointed out this was unlikely.

Living Hope’s main service occurs on Sunday usually between 10am and 1pm and youth meetings at weekdays usually finish at 8pm. The building will also be used around Christian holidays, which fall on Bank Holidays.

The plans will also see the restoration of the historic water fountain outside on the front boundary wall. This is to be repositioned.

Recommending approval, planning officer Peiran Shen said the proposal would renovate an underused building to provide a community facility and enhance the appearance of the Conservation Area and preserve its character.

In December we reported that Living Hope has held a gift day when a staggering £150,000 was given and £300,000 pledged towards the Douglas AM project.

A newsletter sent to the congregation stated: ‘Recently we held a gift day and an amazing £450k-plus was given or pledged in a single day!

'Praise the Lord. We’re trusting for £500k by the time we take ownership.’

Living Hope has eight congregations spread across the island but only one church - at Port St Mary - is owned by the charity while another building is on long-term lease.