ANOTHER Oxfordshire church is planning a massive refurbishment to bring it into the 21st century.

St Mary's in Wheatley is planning to spend between £400,000 and £700,000 installing better heating, lighting and seating and creating a space 'the community will want to use'.

Rev Nigel Hawkes has described the overhaul as 'the biggest refurbishment of the church building since it was built' in 1857.

Church fathers have hired Wheatley architect Kelvin Sampson who is now drawing up plans for what the revamp could look like.

The church will then put its proposals out to a community consultation before seeking planning permission.

The Bishops of Oxford and Dorchester have both said in recent years they would encourage churches to flog old wooden pews and get in more easy-to-move seating to transform their halls into flexible spaces which can be used by community groups.

The Wheatley project will be partly funded by the Friends of St Mary's group which raises funds for operations and capital schemes.

The Friends' Peter Fanning put out an appeal recently for more locals to donate to the cause, saying the refurbishment would make the church a 'warmer, brighter and even more welcoming place'.

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