Redevelopment of St Andrew's Church Hall

The following article, written shortly before the planning application was submitted on 28 May, sketches the process of discussion and consultation, out of which this scheme has been born.


Late 1995/Early 1996

The Parochial Church Council identified the necessity for a radical solution to be sought for the ailing Church Hall premises. A brainstorming group was formed to study the use made of the premises and report to the PCC. In a letter to parishioners on this subject, Fr Tony asked:

Parishioners were invited to submit ideas about:

April 1996

The PCC met for a day's discussion at St Martha's Convent, Hadley Bourne, using a working paper prepared by the brainstorming group, and incorporating comments made by parishioners in response to the above, as a basis for discussion. Basic priorities were identified.

Late 1996/Early 1997

An introduction was made to Mr Colin Kerr of Molyneux Kerr, Architects, who has particular expertise and experience in the field of church architecture. Mr Kerr's involvement in the project and his appointment as the Parish's Quinquennial Inspector was ratified by the PCC in early 1997.

The Client Group was set up. The first meeting was held in January 1997 and the Group began to study and research issues such as:

  1. the make-up of the parish (people and buildings);

  2. the church and hall buildings and their uses (worship space and social spaces, internal and external qualities and problem areas);

  3. analysis of the site (its history and its nature);

  4. constraints imposed by the site and the existing buildings;

  5. legal constraints (conservation area, etc.)

  6. partnerships (councillors, neighbours, hall users, local bodies, etc.).

Visits were made to neighbouring churches and halls to study their buildings and identify good and bad features.

The background research was now almost complete. The plan began to evolve.


The need for radical thinking had become clear, together with an awareness that this was an opportunity to be grasped with vision and foresight, not with timidity and backward glances.

Ideas quickly began to germinate for the ideal arrangement of space to support the vision behind the project. A number of vital principles were established for inclusion within the scheme:

And of course there were practical elements to consider:

From all this evolved the first draft plan, into which the architect, Colin Kerr, faithfully and expertly wove the various elements listed above. His simple and effective drawing together of so many different strands of thought demonstrated his understanding of the aims of the project and his own enthusiasm for it. An exciting time indeed.

The processes which followed have largely been documented through the Notes of Client Group Meetings. The original draft plan has seen a number of revisions in response to comments from the PCC, the congregation, the planning authority, councillors, local historical group, neighbours, hall users and others.

Our planning application is almost ready for final approval by the PCC and submission to the local authority. The Client Group continues to meet to monitor this and will in due course give its attention to adding detail to the plan, in consultation with others.

Katy Jones

Click here to see an outline of the present scheme (Phase I), as included in the 1998 Annual Report. Subsequent phases envisaged will focus on e.g. the interior of the church to improve meeting/social facilities.