‘We know that there is some frustration about the length of time it is taking to come back to the congregation with the results of the work that has been going on over the last couple of years and Council’s latest thinking. In addition to renovating and beautifying both the Church and the Hall with worship at the centre, part of our aim, based on feedback from the initial consultation, has been to see if we can make our existing spaces more flexible and fit for purpose and also to investigate creating additional space.
‘The architects are currently carrying out more detailed specifications which will allow us to assess costs and feasibility more accurately. In particular, we are awaiting the results of a study into the possibility of digging down a further level under the existing Hall, which would enable us to create more space, relieving the current pressure particularly on a Sunday; the studies also include ways of optimising the space in the current Hall by removing the platform and changing the entry to the kitchen. We will shortly receive the results, including costs.
‘Initial consultation showed considerable support for introducing more flexible space in the Church itself by removing a limited number of pews and opening up the Chancel by re-positioning or replacing the existing choir stalls. An initial response from the Service des Monuments et Sites (SMS), from whom we need permission for all we are planning, was negative to the idea of any changes to the existing pews in the nave. However, we have not yet had any detailed discussions with them. Some years ago ‘dendrochronological’ tests were carried out on the pews in the nave, which established that they were contemporary with the church. Tests were not carried out on the choir stalls, which we believe to be later. This is planned before we go back to SMS to continue the dialogue.’