Worshippers at the longest established church in Fleet are praying plans to move into an office building are approved.

Fleet Baptist Church (FBC) has applied for a change of use from a business unit to a new place of worship at Oak House on Ancells Business Park.

The church is currently based in Clarence Road, Fleet and has a congregation of about 350.

It says it is committed to supporting many community groups and activities but the existing premises limits both the congregation size and the extent of community activity possible.

The church is looking to buy Oak House so it can hold services for more than 500 people.

It also hopes additional space on the first floor of the office can allow for future expansion and provide a base for community groups.

The current church has a floor area of 677s/q metres whereas Oak House has 2,246sq/m.

Oak House is currently occupied by Murata Electronics, which markets and distributes electronic components, but the company no longer occupies the whole of the building owing to a significant change in its business operations.

The firm now only occupies around half of the first floor, which it uses for office and administrative purposes.

A market report prepared for Fleet Baptist Church by DB Real Estate said it has been trying to sell Oak House since 2008 without success.

FBC said a primary reason for seeking to move to Oak House was the greater number of parking spaces that will become available.

Oak House has 77 spaces plus two disabled bays and cycle rack for ten cycles, while the Clarence Road site only has 19 parking spaces.

Oak House also has full disabled access and a disabled lift to the first floor, while a disabled toilet is being proposed as part of the new internal layout of the building.

The church also aims to provide a minibus service from the centre of Fleet to the new church at Oak House on Sundays.

A design and access statement prepared by Church Crookham-based architects Macallan Penfold said the new church could be used to host inter-church or regional conferences, while the church sanctuary for worship would be capable of being adapted to a number of different layouts and seating arrangements.

A cafe and kitchen will serve both during the week and following services, while meals can be provided for conferences.

FBC is the oldest church in Fleet, having been founded in 1846 by William Webster in his home. It has since occupied several sites in the town. The current church in Clarence Road was opened in June 1965.

Hart District Council will decide on the application by July 11.