A CHURCH which has just completed a £359,000 overhaul is looking forward to welcoming a host of new community groups – so long as they're the right sort.

Holy Trinity in Charlton, Wantage, gave locals a sneak peek at its new kitchen, underfloor heating, disabled toilet and lighting following the five-month revamp.

The church, like dozens of others across Oxfordshire, is rebranding itself as a modern, accessible civic hall available for hire.

But, as churchwarden Bob Chaplow hastened to add, Holy Trinity is still a church and is not quite all groups would be welcome.

He said: "We are being careful about what sorts of things we accept: this is a church and there are certain sorts of groups regarded as good community groups.

"We're not accepting bookings for private parties, for example, and we have to be sensitive to noise issues.

"We obviously wouldn't take any groups which are anti-Christian church either."

However, in the peaceful community of Charlton, the majority of groups looking for a room for hire fit the bill perfectly.

What's more, Mr Chaplow said the initial reaction from the Charlton WI and Wantage folk dancing society had been exactly what the church hoped for.

He said: "The opening went very well – we had about 70 people there and 99 per cent of them were happy.

"There was the odd one who wasn't, but the vast majority were absolutely delighted."

The two new extensions even impressed the building control inspectors, who have nominated the project for Local Authority Building Control annual excellence awards.

In fact, the revamp has been so successful the church is not even planning to advertise its new community-friendly space, such is the level of local interest already.

Since the open day on February 15, the church has had its furniture and chairs delivered, and is now just waiting for its beloved organ to be reinstated next week.

If that goes to plan, Holy Trinity hopes to hold its first service in the 'new church' on Mothering Sunday, March 11.

Holy Trinity is just the latest in Oxfordshire to adopt the progressive attitude: in 2013, Bishop of Dorchester Colin Fletcher said as many as 20 per cent of Oxfordshire’s more than 300 Church of England sites had undergone such makeovers, and praised their ambition.

Bishop of Oxford Steven Croft said in an interview last year that one of his objectives was to see pews taken out of most of the churches in his diocese to allow buildings to be used more flexibly.

Holt Trinity sold its Victorian pews off last year for £150 each, helping raise some extra cash for the refurbishment.