Work has started on building a new home for St Andrew's Methodist and United Reformed Church in Rochdale, which is relocating to make way for the next phase of the £250m regeneration of the town centre.
The church, currently in Smith Street, is moving to the site of the former Central Leisure Centre in Entwisle Road.
The move was coordinated by Rochdale Development Agency and Rochdale Council. The building is being developed by Globe Construction and will be completed in early 2014.
The Revd Carolyn White, United Reformed Church minister at St Andrew's, said: "This is a really exciting time for St Andrew's. There's been a church on our present site for more than 150 years and we're delighted to be staying in the town centre. I'm really impressed by the newly built leisure centre and municipal offices – and as we are expecting a comparable standard and finish we consider ourselves to be very fortunate indeed. It's going to be great to see work start and we're hoping it will be completed around Christmas time, allowing us to move in at the start of 2014."
A new transport interchange in Smith Street is due to open in the autumn, on the opposite side of the River Roch to Number One Riverside, the council's new library, customer service centre and council offices. Metrolink will start running to Smith Street next year and demolition of the bus station, adjacent car park and former Municipal Offices will get underway.