Church bid for a casino home

Picture Martin Bostock'The Island St Annes
Picture Martin Bostock'The Island St Annes
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A COMMUNITY church with a growing membership is bidding to secure a permanent home and bring a former casino back to life.

In the last four years Renovate Life Church has gone from one member to 75 – and now the St Annes-based organisation hopes a former entertainment complex will provide it with a long-term base.

The group failed in a bid to take over The Island on the Promenade two years ago, but now hopes their plans to transform the site’s empty casino will find favour with Fylde Council’s planning team.

Pastor Ann Strickland, who founded the church, said: “A couple of years ago we went for it all but we didn’t get the planning permission.

“We used to meet in there when the casino closed for about nine months before it went into liquidation and we had to vacate the building.

“We’ve been pushing towards getting back there and now the lease has come up so we’ve put the application in.

“Our church has grown since a few years ago and we want to get everyone on board and benefit the community.”

The church currently holds its Sunday sessions at St Annes YMCA, and also holds different clubs for all ages throughout the week.

If it gets planning permission at the casino, the church wants to create an auditorium which will house everything from messy play and tea dances to youth club and Zumba, open a cafe and have meetings rooms.

The venture would create around 20 new jobs, with up to 11 staff required to staff the facilities on a Sunday between 9am and 2pm, with between two and three staff at all other times, seven days a week.

Pastor Strickland added: “It’s going to be a great place for the young people.

“It’s not held us back not having a home but I believe it will be the catalyst to build things up.”

Renovate Life Church is a registered charity and an associate of the Assemblies of God of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It is a Christian church but aims for a more ‘contemporary expression of faith’ by injecting fun into worship.

Paul Jervis re-opened The Island last summer, with the four-screen cinema now turning a profit and the hunt continuing for a tenant for the sea-view restaurant.

He said now agreement had been reached with the church, and added: “At the moment the casino (Genting) are still our tenants.”

The application will be decided by the council.