AN historical Selkirk church has been granted permission to progress ambitious expansion plans.

The congregation of St John's wants to create more space for community use within their historic Episcopalian Church.

And this week the full application for reconfiguration and an extension was given the green light by Scottish Borders Council's planning department.

Planning officer Andrew Evans said: "The relationships between the windows of the church extension and neighbouring dwellings are all agreeable in terms of overlooking and privacy considerations.

"I am also content that the extension is suitably positioned and scaled relative to neighbouring housing, that no adverse impacts arise in terms of overshadowing."

St John's, which was opened in 1869, was the last Episcopalian Church to be built in the Scottish Borders.

Congregation numbers at the Shawpark Church have fallen from around 80 in the 1980s and 90s to a current Sunday attendance of around 40.

But senior figures at the Shawpark Church want to encourage a wider community use of their building and create multi-purpose areas.

The reconfiguration of the main Church building, which will see the current pulpit, pews and organ chamber moved, and the new extension will allow for a new kitchen and toilet facilities as well as an additional hall and meeting area.

The plans will also see better access for people with disabilities.

And a stained glass window on the north west elevation, where the extension will be added, is to be moved to replace a current plain glazed window.

A spokesman for St John's said: "It was clear that it would not be possible to create any additional toilet or meeting/social areas within the existing church without degrading the existing interior ambience of the building.

"In view of this an extension is proposed to the north west of the Church to accommodate a multi-purpose meeting /social area, kitchen and toilet facilities.

"A narrow link section will connect the extension to the existing building, thereby minimizing alteration and disruption to the existing building fabric."