After a slight delay, here at last is information about the Parish's Development Scheme. I hope that this will be of interest not only to those who live or work close to St Andrew's who are most likely to be affected by the changes and the work involved in bringing them to pass; but also to anyone who has any association with the Parish or is simply interested in who we are and what we are trying to be and do.
The present proposals are the fruit of a long period of reflection and discussion and seek to build on what the church here has been and has represented since its beginning a century ago. The ideas are imaginative and built on solid principles, stressing the unity of the many different activities which mae up the life of the Parish. The first phase of the scheme has been identified which is the subject of two planning applications, running in parallel: one relating to the Hall/Church work, the other relating to permission to build a small dwelling for Parish use. Further phases will relate to internal work in order to improve meeting and social facilites within the church at a later date.
Below is the text of a letter I wrote to accompany the present planning applications. I hope it gives an idea of why we have set out on such an exciting (and daunting!) enterprise. You will find much more information about the scheme on the other pages in this section. I hope you find it both informative and interesting. Finally, there is a spcial Comments Book: please look at it and don't forget to leave your own comments.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to introduce to you - on my own behalf and on behalf of the Parochial Church Council of Alexandra Park - our proposals for redevelopment of part of the St Andrew's site, which represent the fruit of long reflection and discussion within this Parish.
It was some years ago, following initial consultation among members of the congregation, that the Parochial Church Council first met to draw up a preliminary statement of needs. From the beginning of this process up to the present we have been driven by two concerns: first, the marked and continuing deterioration of the present Church Hall buildings, especially to the rear of the site; and secondly, the inability of the present accommodation (designed as it was in very different circumstances) to meet the needs of the church on this site both at the present time and into the next generation - this affects not only the congregation itself, to whose needs the present buildings are increasingly ill-suited, but also the ability of the church to fulfil the role it wishes to serve within the local community. In wrestling with these issues, the Parochial Church Council and its Development Client Group have felt deeply privileged (and at times more than a little daunted!) to have been given the opportunity to attempt to carry into the future something of the vision which gave rise to the presence of a church on this site a century ago - a vision which also found expression in the rebuilding of St Andrew's Church in the 1950s following war damage. This awareness of continuity, of organic development, has, I believe, been well expressed in the present plans' strong allusions to features of the original church building. As the Parish approaches its Centenary celebrations, this has particular value for us.
Throughout the course of its discussions, the Parochial Church Council has been anxious that those who have a close interest in the project should be kept fully informed; but it has also been acutely aware of the need to consult and to welcome comments and contributions. Initially this has meant 'in house' consultation with members of the congregation and the wider parish family. More recently we have felt it important to share our thinking with, for example, external groups which use the premises regularly, our immediate neighbours who live alongside St Andrew's Church, members of the local Conservation Area Advisory Committee, representatives of other local churches and the councillors of Fortis Green and Alexandra wards. These exercises have been very helpful to us and a source of encouragement. I am certain that discussion of our proposals will continue in the same spirit. To this end an exhibition, which includes plans and drawings as well as a model of the proposed development, is currently being updated and will be available to be viewed in church by anyone who is interested, either when the church is open or by arrangement through the Parish Office. In addition details of the proposals and plans are currently being prepared for publication on the Parish's site on the World Wide Web, at the url given above.
St Andrew's has been part of the local community under several different forms for a hundred years. An important part of its raison d'être has always been the attempt to articulate the identity and try to serve the needs of that community. We hope that the redevelopment plans for the Parish Church of Alexandra Park will equip us to fulfil that task a little more fully. Fulfilling that role has involved adapting to local demographic and wider social change: something of that internal experience of adaptation and renewal is mirrored in the process of architectural development from Alder's original St Andrew's (and indeed before), through the post-war rebuilding of the church and up to our present proposals. The guidance of an experienced architect, aware of conservation concerns, sensitive to the aspirations of the original design, to the character and history of the local community and to the rationale and concerns of a worshipping community have served us well in this undertaking.
This is a time of significant opportunity in the life of the Parish, particularly opportune as we look towards the centenary of the original St Andrew's Church in 2003. Circumstances have combined with our own vision to drive forward the process out of which the present proposals have emerged. Those same circumstances give a real urgency to the project, too, for the evidence we see in parts of the site suggests that unless we intervene in some way very soon continued deterioration and increasing unsuitability may mean we run the risk of losing an amenity we are very anxious to secure for the future.Yours faithfully