PLANS by a church to turn a former youth centre into a community hub for Devizes are moving ahead after support from the parish and town.

Vicar of St James the Rev Keith Brindle said: "Following hugely encouraging church and public consultations the leadership at St James' pressed the go button on the purchase of the old youth centre on the old school site to redevelop it as a community hub.

"There is a load to do, but we can't wait to see the hub open. We hope the hub will become a vibrant community centre, known for the multi-agency support it provides groups, families and individuals."

The church will now push ahead with buying the building from the Diocesan Board of Education which last year caused upset when it tried to get planning permission to turn the former school in Estcourt Street into flats. People living nearby objected to the lack of parking and the scheme was rejected by the eastern area planning committee.

But Dr Brindle is convinced the latest proposal will be a big asset both for his church and the wider community. He said the chance to open a hub was a once-in-a-generation opportunity. He said: "St James’ bucks the national trend. We are a growing, vibrant, active, multi-generational church.

"However, for these same reasons, we now find that our work, both in the church building and in the community, has outgrown and is being limited by the buildings we have. We now need more space for activities, space that is useable, flexible and easily accessible.

"We want the hub to be used by organisations and charities who provide services that enable the people of Devizes to flourish, as well as use it as a venue for the many community initiatives that we are already involved in.

He said the church was already involved in delivering a large number of courses and events including an after-school café, debt advisory courses and the Noise weekend which involves cleaning up the town and doing other good deeds.

Last year St James’ took on Rob Jackson, a former probation officer with over 18 years experience, as its community outreach worker. Dr Brindle said: "His work has already led to greater liaison with local schools, in particular supporting boys who are struggling at school, a community pop-up choir at Christmas , and a growing partnership with local community agencies. This has helped foster an increased awareness of the needs within the community."