A view from the main entrance of the recently re-painted north wall
“St Mary's 2000” is the project that was initiated in 1997 to raise funds to provide the facilities needed to enable the Church to fulfil its role in the 21st century. The project was divided into two phases:
- Phase I was to repair the north, south and tower roofs, and then to repair the tower, install a new bell frame & re-pair and re-hang the bells. All of this work has now been completed, the bells having been re-hung in the summer/autumn of 2010.
- Phase II is the building of new facilities with a meeting room, office, store, kitchen and toilets. Planning permission for the new facilities was granted a number of years ago and some funds have already been raised for this part of the Project.
English Heritage have been involved in every aspect of the work and a grant was received from them for the re-roofing of both the south and north aisle roofs. Grants have also been received from a number of bodies including Bucks Historic Churches and the Great Brickhill Parish Council.
In February 2013 Bruce Deacon was appointed as the architect to propose a scheme to accommodate the new / some of the new / facilities within the church building. An open presentation weekend was held in June to show and explain the proposed plans. The Rector explained that the church building has been adapted and developed throughout its history and in recent years through the St Mary’s 2000 project tremendous work has been done on the roof, the tower, and the re-hanging and improvement of our bells. It is now time to provide the new facilities that will better equip the church for today and for the future, in a way that is achievable and sustainable.
The church building is already well used – for regular services, and as a place for quiet and prayer, as well as for a variety of special services and events, ranging from small to very large gatherings of people. The aim of the new facilities is to make the building more comfortable and accessible for the current users, and to facilitate greater use of it in future. The right balance is being sought between respecting the history and tradition that the building reflects, while also making changes to enable the mission of the church for today and for the future.
The original proposal was for a meeting room, a kitchen, loos, an office and storage. While these requirements were still deemed valid, there was general agreement that loos and a kitchen were the highest priority. The PCC looked at which of these new facilities should be provided inside the existing building, and how much should be in a new extension. Several factors were considered:
- maintaining the current seating capacity of the church; not providing new facilities in the building that could affect the feel of the space, and possibly the acoustics
- current guidance (which is different from when this project was conceived around 20 years ago) that external building work will only be permitted if there are powerful reasons why the facilities cannot be provided in the envelope of the existing building
- not to increase maintenance burden on future generations
- the cost of interior facilities is likely to be considerably cheaper and hence quicker to achieve than building externally
- whether it is morally right to be spending more than we need.
The new proposals provide all the functions called for in the original statement of need:- a tea point at the rear of the church in the North corner with a minimum number of pews being removed; loos in an extension to the north of the building, which will also provide some additional storage; the Lady Chapel partitioned off with glassed screens, to be used for meetings, or as a space for children during services, or as a quiet space; the vestry re-ordered to provide an office area.
Through long discussions by the PCC during the year, and the consultation weekend held in June, it became clear that there is a clear majority in support of a different shape of project from the long-standing plans. This has raised questions about how the PCC should handle or use the existing funds that have been raised, so guidance is being sought from the Diocese, and the Charity Commission, to ensure that this is dealt with in the right way.
The Proposed New Plan:
The proposed new plan for New Facilities, which was the subject of the consultation event within the Parish in June 2013 are, in some respects, significantly changed from those envisaged by the original Founders of the Appeal in 1997 but the PCC considers that the new plans respect the original aims of the project and are affordable both to build and maintain.
In the new plans some of the New Facilities (the toilets and, at a later stage, a meeting room) are planned as an extension to the church footprint and some of the range of New Facilities will be achieved by making minor adaptations to the interior of the church. The new plans have already received a very positive response from the Diocesan Advisory Committee (the DAC) and so we are confident that they will enhance the appearance of our Church in Great Brickhill and help in its continuing life and mission in the village. Throughout this planning process the PCC has sought to honour the Founders’ original intentions for the New Facilities while making the project achievable.
To download a PDF of the new proposed plans:- Click Here
Please note that these plans are a general proposal, which will develop as the project proceeds.
UPDATES ON THE PROJECT 2014 / 2015
The PCC has issued updates on the project to provide additional facilities for the church.
For a PDF file of the information sheets click on the following links:- October 2014 April 2015