PERMISSION is being sought for plans to convert a church in Cleator Moor into an art an craft centre.

Copeland Borough Council has received an application to convert St John the Evangelist Church, Cleator Moor into an art and craft centre by NR Design Services Ltd on behalf of applicant Hui Wang.

The plans would make use of, and retain, the existing structure with no changes being carried out to the structural elements.

However, pews will be repositioned to create space for the retail use. The church ceased to be a place of worship on March 19 2017 and has sat unused since then.

The proposal for St John the Evangelist Church is for it to house West Cumbria Arts and Craft, a business start-up launched by Miss Wang who has experience with similar enterprises in Portpatric, Penrith, Camalot, Preston and York.

A company, Arty Craft Limited, will be formed after planning permission has been approved for the church in Cleator Moor.

In her business plan, Miss Wang said that the company has low start-up costs and enthusiastic owners. She hopes that the company will encourage local people to engage in leisure activities.

However on balance, she said that work is needed to prepare the building so that it’s ready to be opened up to the public and maintenance costs of a large listed building need to be taken into account.

Arty Craft Limited’s plan involves a number of stalls being placed in the church to each sell different sustainable and homemade products.

They acknowledge that the company faces competition from Etsy’s online sellers, craft work on Amazon, Mitchell’s auction house in Cockermouth and the Mitchell’s car boot sale which takes place every Sunday.

Their short term plan involves around 6 to 8 months preparing the building for opening and time to develop the concept.

Miss Wang’s application pencils in September 2022 as the start-up date with a forecast of £50,000 of sales in year one.

Speaking of her long term plan she said it was to “Build a warm and welcoming place for the local arts and craft community to meet up, and pass on their skills and disciplines and make a viable business.”

She projects a 20 per cent increase in turnover by the second year of trading and a 40 per cent turnover by year three.