PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHURCH PREMISES
Since the Day Centre moved from Church Road and Orange terminated their contract for the use of the tower, Church Road has been considering its financial position alongside the viability of the Church Buildings. The Church Council subsequently resolved to focus development on the Church building and agreed to place a request for permission to sell or lease all or part of the site on the Methodist Consent Process.
Discussions were held with a number of developers to identify possible schemes for social housing on part of the site, but only one finally expressed any interest in pursuing opportunities further. The Church Council meeting on the 15th March 2016, therefore, appointed a Group to work with the Minister in responding to the interest being shown in the part of the Church site with a view to improving facilities and assisting the Church become sustainable.
In recent years we have struggled to attract new users. Feedback suggests the condition of the premises and the furnishings have been factors and, in some cases, we were not able to meet the quality standards required.
With the loss of income from the Day Centre the policy has been to carry out essential maintenance only. Consequently, the premises are tired and would need significant investment to attract new users. It is anticipated the above would require an investment of around £100,000 - funds that we do not have and there is no guarantee we would increase bookings. This does not include improvements or reconfiguring the premises to adapt them for new uses.
Conversations have therefore continued with the interested Developer and Outline Plans produced which suggest there is a viable project which could:-
Initial plans have been on display in the church in August and are available for inspection. These show the disposal of the land currently occupied by the post 1950's building for social housing, the retention of the Restaurant, Parlour and Kitchen, together with new building around the link to provide new reception facilities, meeting space and office accommodation. The church would be adapted to build on the recent flexible space in order to accommodate a wider range of activities, whilst preserving an area of sacred space. Initial costings indicate that, with the sale of land and with local authority contributions for the developer through a planning agreement for social housing, the overall project would be financially viable for the church. The next stage is to work up a fully costed scheme.
At this stage no decision has been made and the only commitment made by the Church Council so far has been to actively consider the scheme and to authorise the commissioning of a valuation of the church site and appointing a solicitor to advise on legal matters as and when required.
The proposed development will be considered further at a special church council meeting on Tuesday 13 September.
To meet our agreed budget for the next Methodist year and to help us take forward our agenda for community engagement, a challenging target of £5,000 has been set for fundraising. A fundraising committee has been established and it is hoped that a range of activities will be organised during the course of the year to help meet this target. Some of the events will be aimed at a wider audience beyond the immediate church congregation and we will be encouraging everyone to involve friends, family, neighbours and colleagues in supporting these.
More details of upcoming events will be publicised in the weekly notices, on our noticeboards and through other media.
We have ambitious plans for the future at Church Road, offering support and activities reaching out to the local community. We hope that in working towards this, we will have the wholehearted support of our own congregation and the support of many others outside.