St Mary’s is pleased to announce that we’ve cleared more hurdles in our attempt to repair and regenerate our ancient building, with the hope of securing the rest of our National Lottery grant by Autumn 2019. All being well, our plan is to begin works in early 2021 and finish by early 2022.
In March 2019, the Diocesan Advisory Committee (Church of England) gave their conditional consent to our plans, which include taking out the pews and replacing them with cathedral-style seating among other changes. In late 2018, we also received permission from the Council for an extension onto the church which will hold our church offices and create a new entrance and more community space.
St Mary’s won a conditional £1.67 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2017 (now called the National Lottery Heritage Fund) for our ‘Creative Church’ proposal – a plan to repair and regenerate the building while also getting it open to the wider community as a centre of arts and culture, something we believe will compliment our life as a church (read more about our Creative Church project here).
While we have already received some of our National Lottery grant in order to lay the initial groundwork for a project of this magnitude, the full grant can only be realised once all permissions are in place, match funding has been secured, and other National Lottery requirements have been met.
Though we had hoped to meet these requirements in late 2018, various setbacks meant that our application for the remainder of the lottery funding had to be delayed. We are now going back to the National Lottery in May 2019 with all permissions granted, the building fully costed, a business plan in place and a full programme of cultural activities proposed, per National Lottery requirements. The only thing left for us to show is that we have the necessary match funding in place (or will relatively soon).
While we are still in the process of selling several parish assets in order to pour that money back into the building, we are optimistic that by May 2019 we can show the National Lottery that our match funding is in place for what will be a project of approximately £3 million and which will radically improve our building and allow us to get it open in the day, throughout the week. Our vision is to be a parish church in the truest sense – a church that is accessible to the whole community as a welcoming, peaceful and inviting space that allows people to connect with each other and with God.