There has been a Methodist Church on the corner of St. James Road and Bramston Road since 1928. It has always been a place of worship and a busy community hub. For nearly 90 years we’ve been sharing in some of the most significant events in the lives of those around us. Baptisms, weddings, parties, youth clubs, sporting events, fairs, funerals, festivals… the list goes on. To continue to serve God and our community we must evolve, as we are called into new and exciting areas of service, and our building must evolve with us. To that end, we are excited to share our plans with you.
A while ago we engaged with a specialist architecture firm to research and review our current buildings and our needs into the future. CPL Architects have a great deal of experience working with churches to develop their premises in line with the demands of ministry. After extensive discussions with the community CPL have drawn up a program of developments works comprising four modules. We hope these changes will allow us to push forward confidently into the future.
This module involves improvements to the first floor of our buildings. Access to the upstairs rooms has long been a struggle for those with limited mobility. To help us better use this space and to make it more easily available to our community we intend to install a disabled access platform. This will allow wheelchair users or those that struggle with stairs to access our upper rooms safely. This improved access requires us to reconfigure our existing upstairs toilets to provide an accessible toilet. To do this parts of our heating system will be relocated and the existing toilets removed in order to re-purpose the space.
Aside from the upstairs hall we have a number of fairly small meeting rooms. Two of these will be “knocked through” to open up a larger dedicated meeting space. This will allow church or community business meetings and small group meetings to take place in a purpose-built and well equipped room. Space from another of these small rooms will be claimed to allow for a larger refurbished kitchen. The current kitchen isn’t suitable for much more than hot drinks, a proper kitchen facility upstairs will open the first floor up to a far broader range of uses.
Just before the turn of the millennium we embarked upon the “Link 2000” project. Part of this project reclaimed some of the outside space that sat between our main hall and the church sanctuary to form the space now known as “The Link”. This space has since become the busy hub of many activities throughout the week. It’s our welcome space and primary social space and is the first area visitors come to when entering our buildings.
However, all this busy-ness means that we have somewhat outgrown the space, so we plan to enlarge it. By moving the glass frontage in this area out towards St. James Road we hope to gain a good deal more space. As a busy social hub we expect the expanded Link to become a family-friendly café-style space in which our community can gather to chat over hot drinks or hold informal meetings. The extension will also allow us to bring toilet facilities much closer to this space alleviating the fairly long walk to the other side of the building, a struggle when you have a desperate toddler or two!
For some time now Shirley Pre-School, a long-time user of our buildings, has struggled with ageing toilet facilities and a lack of access to secure outdoor space. To improve facilities for the pre-school and for other users of our buildings we hope to completely refurbish the rear (western) corner of the building to bring these facilities up to a modern standard. This will greatly improve things for the children and staff.
We also plan to provide safe access to an area of our grounds that will be landscaped and secured so it is suitable for young children. Outdoor play is vital to the rounded development of children in early years and this will make a substantial difference to pre-school attendees. As a multi-use garden space it will also provide an additional area to host outdoor functions.
At the far end of the church car park to the rear of the buildings lies a single-storey brick building affectionately known as ‘The Hut’. For some years this has been used by our BBGA as an air-rifle range and general purpose storage area. Our hope is to demolish this building and replace it with a two-storey purpose-built Youth Centre and accommodation block.
With a ground floor space aimed at the needs of young people we hope to significantly improve our ability to serve this age group. As a dedicated space, separate from the main building, we hope to be able to provide the type of clubs and groups that aren’t practical in our current spaces.
The first floor will be given over to two self-contained bedsit flats. We hope to rent these and\or offer them as emergency accommodation. As well as providing a valuable community resource we hope this will help with the financial aspects of supporting the church in the future.