A NEW community centre could be built in Lambourne to coincide with a church’s 900th anniversary.

Plans have been submitted to Epping Forest District Council to build in the grounds of St Mary and All Saints Church.

If approved, activity rooms, event spaces, church ancillary facilities and rooms for prayer and reflection would be built.

Although an exact timescale has not been produced, Reverend Roger Gayler is hopeful the centre will be built in time for St Mary’s 900th anniversary in 2020.

He said: “The centre will be used to commemorate the work we have been doing here.

“The 900th anniversary is a really important landmark for people and it ties them to the area’s heritage.

“The centre would be used for a wide variety of things, without disturbing the peace and quiet of the church. We don’t want it to be turned into a rock concert venue.”

The centre would sit towards Abridge, down a cemetery path once used to bring bodies up to St Mary’s, which sits in a small hamlet on Church Lane.

“We didn't want to do anything to mar the image of the church,” Rev Gayler added.

“A lot of people say it is a beautiful site and a beautiful church.”

If built, the ‘simple, pitched barn’ style centre clad in timber and decked with plain roof tiles, would fill some of the gap left by the deteriorating Holy Trinity Church in Abridge.

The 19th century church has been closed for eight years with dry rot problems and could soon fall into the hands of the Diocese of Chelmsford, which may decide to repurpose the building.

To celebrate St Mary's milestone year, a host of activities will be held and parishioners encouraged to take part in a ‘900 acts of kindness’ initiative.