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WHY THIS PROJECT?

St. Peter’s Church is already active in our local community: supporting young people through toddler group, drama, music groups and Guiding; the disabled via the Tom Metcalfe Centre’s use of our facilities; the Lordsmead Playgroup; Wiltshire Wildlife Trust; and the local Parish Council. We want to maintain and improve the facilities and service that  we provide to our local community for the future

WHY THIS NAME

We wanted a name to reflect what we were trying to achieve through this project.

Cornerstone is a building block fundamental to the structural integrity of a building, giving it firm foundations for the future,  so it was highly appropriate to a project seeking to conserve our current facilities and their Roper heritage.

We area church situated upon a corner, so it is a name which physically locates us in our community.

We want to be central to the life of our local community through the facilities, services and welcome that we offer. What better way of expressing the hope to be an essential and  integral building block of that community, knitted into its very fabric.

In Old Testament predictions of the coming of a Messiah, Isaiah says: “So this is what the sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.  I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line’.  Jesus refers to himself as ‘the cornerstone’ (Mathew 21). His church would be built upon a unified body of believers, so the name reflects an important element of our faith.

WHY NOW?

We have a problem in that our church has ‘concrete cancer’. This is a failure of pre-cast concrete used in the construction of postwar non-traditional buildings. Basically water penetration and/or the presence of chloride cause the reinforcement rods to rust and expand resulting in concrete cracking. You can see the effects through this link. Various preventative measures have been taken but we now have to take more fundamental action.  This is not only to protect the structure and safety of its users, but also to preserve the art and design heritage of the artist Frank Roper which is present throughout our church in etched and stained glass and caste aluminium decorations. (If you follow this link you can find out more about Roper and his work at St. Peter’s)

A CHALLENGE AND AN OPPORTUNITY?
We appreciate that this is a considerable challenge, but also saw an opportunity to ensure that our facilities continue to make a significant contribution to our local community in the years to come. What if we could identify our local community’s needs and address the concrete cancer at the same time?

HOW DID WE IDENTIFY COMMUNITY NEEDS?
So we carried out a local community survey to establish what further facilities and activities would be of benefit to you. We did this in February 2014 and you can see the results through this link.  The facilities which achieved the highest 4 rankings on the basis of total votes cast were:

Community coffee bar/cafe

Dance/Drama/Music/Arts space

P1000192Shining bright: Riding Lights Theatre Company perform at St Peter’s on 21 March 2016

First Aid classes; and

Exercise classes.

Amongst those with the highest number of top three placements from various analysis rankings, it was these four facilities which again predominated. We also approached our existing major users – the Tom Metcalfe Centre (TMC) and Lordsmead Playgroup – to seek their needs and help them to meet their full potential for the longer term. They indicated a need for self-contained and enhanced facilities which would allow them to meet safeguarding requirements and permit future expansion.

WHAT WILL THE PROJECT LOOK LIKE?
We asked our architects to look at how we could meet all those various needs as part of our development effort by providing new purpose built facilities for flexible community usage as well as reordering existing space (eg. better audio-visual equipment, lighting, staging in the church for performance arts and exhibitions).  They carried out a full feasibility study earlier this year and proposed a project that would provide:

  • A new community cafe to the front of the church with web linked access to community services;
  • A secure cloistered area behind the cafe for social interaction and play/activities.
  • A performance area within the church and flexible exhibition space for displays etc. providing greater accessibility to the work of Frank Roper and linking this to the arts in general.
  • Enhanced kitchen facilities in the hall to allow life skills teaching by the TMC and others.
  • Enhanced facilities for the playgroup to provide a fully secure area with a staff room and reading area.
  • The demolition of the current narthex and its replacement with a more welcoming face to the world;
  • Repairs to the concrete cancer impacted areas of the facilities to ensure their continued availability for the future and safeguard our Roper heritage.

You can see an artist’s impression of the new facilities through this link, and also here, together with the new floor plan for our complex.

 WHAT WILL IT COST?

The total cost is in the order of £1.5M. We need to raise a lot of money, especially from grant giving organisations, to make this all happen.  We cannot achieve it from our own resources alone, much as we would like to. And that means that we need to have the support of our local community.  We have already spoken to the local authority to confirm that our ideas do not conflict with their strategies and have their support. We now need to ensure that what we are proposing meets real local community needs – your needs – and that we have your support.

COMMUNITY CONSULTATION

From 2nd-6th November 2015 we held an open community consultation , displaying our plans in the church from 12-2pm and 3-5pm each day, together with answers to some of the questions that are frequently asked about the proposed development. On the final evening of 6th November, from 6-8pm, we held an informal session in the church hall, where questions could be asked, and concerns aired, about what was proposed. Councillor Peter Hutton was in attendance that night to answer any concerns about the development from a Council viewpoint. The result of the consultation were very positive, with overwhelming support being expressed for the proposed developments.

 WHERE ARE WE NOW?

We received the latest drawings from our architects, suitable for a planning application,in mid 2016. We then consulted with St Peter’s Academy to ensure that they were content with the way in which our proposed development connected to their property.  These arrangements were approved by their Local Area Board.  The Leadership Team and PCC have considered and approved the drawings. A submission to the Diocesan Advisory Committee for a faculty to cover the development has been made and they have recommended approval.  The drawings were submitted to Wiltshire Council for formal full planning approval just before Christmas. Planning permission was granted on 1 March 2017 and Diocesan approval was given, after a public consultation process, in April.  The Diocesan approval for the Cornerstone project, originally provided for a one year period, was subsequently extended to two years.  This will give us additional time to identify potential grant givers to bring this ambitious community project to fruition.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

You’ll find some answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the project on this link.