Our building plans

Our plans to upgrade our building continue in spite of the current crisis. The church-wide consultation we held in March was well received with over 80 responses, including from three of our immediate neighbours. Everyone was very positive and there were lots of comments and suggestions, with engagement from right across the age range of church. Last week our church council decided to press ahead with the pre-planning stage, where the council will take a look at our plans before we put in a full planning application. The good news is that our architect can do this work without being on-site, so coronavirus is not slowing us down. This next stage will include a full consultation with our local community.
Out of the many suggestions, some stand out as particularly significant. We want to make the building more sustainable, so we hope to fit photo-voltaic (solar) panels to the roof to provide our electricity, and a system for harvesting rainwater to use in our toilets.
There are two distinct elements to our plans: a new extension where the current office entrance is, by the car park; and refurbishment of the rest of the building. The extension will give us:

  • A new, fully accessible entrance with step-free access into church from the car park.
  • A new meeting room where the current offices are, and new office space.
  • A reception area bridging the gap between the office and the church, to enable the worship area to be open all day. 

Our refurbishments will include:

  • More and better toilets, including disability-accessible facilities on both sides of the building.
  • A new kitchenette in the corner of the building, to make catering easier into the creche and worship area, which can both be used as café space.
  • Improving the current York Road entrance, with new windows and more user-friendly space in the creche, entrance hall and top hall.
  • Better storage and new, more user-friendly furniture.
  • Improving the church hall, including the acoustics.
  • Enlarging and redecorating the youth room. 

We hope to be able to start the work within the next two years. We are likely to do it in three phases: refurbishing the York Road side, including top hall, creche, toilets and new kitchenette; the hall and youth room; and the extension and new entrance. This will ensure that we can keep the building open during the works, although of course there will be some disruption.
One of the things which has particularly impressed people is the cost, currently estimated at £550–600,000. We have around £180,000 in the bank, so this figure seems achievable, although it will be a challenge in the difficult financial climate we will face in the near future. With improvements to accessibility and the scope for greater community use of the building, we hope to raise some money from trusts and foundations.
I hope that, as part of the project, we will be able to ‘twin’ with a church in a more challenging part of the country, to support building work of their own, for which they may struggle to fundraise on their own. This would add a cost to the project, but would fulfil our aim of tithing all our giving and supporting external mission in everything that we do.
What can you do now?

  • Please keep praying for the work that’s going on, which will necessarily be behind the scenes for the next few months.
  • Please pray too for the right teams of people to input into the work. Over the summer the church council will be considering how we structure the work so that we include as many church members as possible and make the most of the expertise we have available.
  • And pray for wisdom as our churchwardens and fabric team revise their plans for maintenance and improvements to the rest of the church building, which have had to change because of corona. 

…so pray, pray and pray! Not a bad set of actions for anything we do as a church.

Mark Wallace, 26/05/2020