A CHURCH that has been closed for almost two decades has been given a new lease of life.

An Orthodox church submitted plans to take over the North Benfleet All Saints Church, in Pound Lane, 18 months ago and has finally been given the nod to set up base at the church.

Reader Brighton-Cross, 45, said: “It is great to have taken possession of the church at last. It has been a long battle to get to this point but I think everyone is looking forward to having a stable residence. The church is a beautiful building and it is hard to believe it has been out of service for 16 years.

“It is certainly not ready yet. There is an awful lot of cleaning to do and the tower needs some attention in the coming months as well. We have a lot to do and not very long to do it.”

The Chelmsford Diocesan Board of Finance had previously said that they would prefer the church to be used for Christian worship but as a way of stopping it from falling into disrepair the church was used as a testament. 

The church is scheduled to be opened for worship at the start of March.