A big THANK YOU to all of you who wrote, chatted, emailed and texted us your views about the proposed redevelopment of Square Corner. There was lots of support for the proposals which we have outlined, as well as some challenges and questions about the project which we also valued. We received over 50 written responses and emails and also had lots of discussions during the consultation process at the St Mary’s Tea tent at The Uffculme Show, Coffee mornings, the St Mary’s AGM, discussions with other Churches, the Youth Café, as well as meetings with a number of local organisations.
We have summarised the main findings from the consultation process over the next few pages, as well as details of what will be happening next.
Many thanks again,
Rev Selina Garner
on behalf of the St Mary’s Church Council
Things people said they liked about the proposals …
- The improvement to the frontage is much needed, and will contribute to the overall improvement of the Village Square
- They make best use of the space available in the building
- The better heating and lighting
- The larger, improved kitchen
- The extra storage
- The bigger office for staff and volunteers
- The toilet upstairs
- The opportunity to have IT training
- It’s exciting and well thought through
- It provides an alternative to the more traditional church building, and enables the church to play a more active role in the community
- It maintains a focus on providing a warm and friendly welcome – and is welcoming to newcomers
Things that people said would make it even better …
- More activities for young parents, toddlers, families and people aged between 20 and 50
- Cafe open more often
- It needs to look modern and contemporary to appeal to young people and families
- Making the project happen quickly!
- More people offering to volunteer and helping to run new activities
- Improve on the foodbank currently provided in the Church
- Basic cooking lessons for families
- Interesting displays of local art
- Providing counselling and other forms of 1:1 support
- A dementia café
- Support for young carers
Issues and concerns …
A number of people expressed concern about the cost of the project.
The current proposals incorporate all the ideas and suggestions put forward by people we have spoken to over the last few years. It aims to maximise the available space in the building, to bring it up to current standards of heating, lighting and insulation, and to provide a modern and well equipped community facility that will serve the village for many years to come. It will continue to be place where people of all ages can meet together, take part in creative activities and do things together to make a difference.
The reality is that it is expensive to develop good quality, multi-use, community facilities and we believe it is right to address some of the underlying issues like heating and lighting as well as how the building looks. We only want to do this once so lets do it properly!
It is an ambitious and exciting project and at we feel that we should continue with the current specification at this stage. We will shortly be going out to tender so we will get more accurate costings for the project and we will look again at any areas where savings can be made.
In the end, what we are able to do will be determined by how successful we are raising funding for the project from trusts and grant makers. If we aren’t able to secure all the funding we need, we will have to ‘cut our cloth accordingly’ and decide which parts of the project to proceed with.
Some people questioned whether Square Corner was a suitable building and whether it makes sense to spend this much on it. Wouldn’t it be better to buy a different one?
This is a good challenge! However, in addition to building work, the current estimate of £320,000 does include costs for a new heating system, furniture and fixtures, IT telephone and networking, audio visual equipment, kitchen appliances, carpet, storage units, catering equipment … and of course VAT at 20% … and any building we used would probably require fitting out in this way and incur many of these costs, not to mention the costs of selling Square Corner and purchasing a new property.
Square Corner is also in a really important location. It is one of the last remaining public-use buildings in The Square. People pass it from all directions and it is a good drop-in location for people going to and from the schools, the library, the shops, the pub and the Churches in the village. It is already used as a focal point for a number of village events and plays an important part in the proposed redevelopment of The Square. Therefore, on balance, we feel it is right to invest in Square Corner as a long term community asset for the village.
St Mary’s Church needs a new heating system and would benefit from a toilet and improved kitchen area. Some people, particularly those that use the Church were concerned that these issues might not be addressed if the Square Corner project goes ahead.
The Church leadership team fully supports the desire to improve the facilities in St Mary’s Church and in practice these are not either/or projects.
There is an on-going programme of repair and maintenance of the building but making changes and improvements to an historic listed church building is fraught with legal and practical issues. They are also very expensive. We are looking carefully at how these various issues can be addressed but the reality is that making any significant changes to the building could take some years.
The funding sources for improvements to the Church - a building used primarily for religious purposes - are also likely to be different to those that would support the redevelopment of Square Corner which, although owned by the Church, has a significant community use.
However, as a result of the consultation process the Church is setting up a new working group to look again at the feasibility and timescale for tackling these various issues. We will then aim to keep people updated on what is happening.
People were keen to ensure that the existing coffee mornings and other could continue during the refurbishment, and after the building is redeveloped.
The current coffee mornings, youth cafe and other community activities have provided much of the inspiration for the redevelopment. They will continue to play an important role once the building is redeveloped and they have all been asked to take part in the consultation and to give their views.
When the refurbishment work takes place we will work with the various groups and make every effort to help them find a temporary place to meet. We will then work hard to ensure everyone is welcomed back into the building and encourage more people through its doors.
So what next?
Getting quotes for the project
We are about to put the project out to tender to get real quotes for the work which needs to be done. We need these quotes to get a more accurate cost for the project, and to identify any possible savings or underestimates. Potential funders also need to see this information.
Once we have the cost information we can send out major funding applications and we plan to be able to start this in September.
We have also committed to raising £50,000 from the Church, the community, and local organisations and so far we have raised £32,000 towards this target which is brilliant! Thank you to all those who have already given towards the project. If you would like to make a donation you can find details on www.squarecorner.org.uk.
At this stage it is hard to tell how long it will take to raise enough funding to start renovating the building. In the meantime we are keen to develop new activities and work with new groups of people to make a difference to the lives of people in Uffculme – it doesn’t all have to wait until the building is sorted out. Therefore if you are interested in volunteering for one of our existing activities, or would like to set up something new do get in touch so we can have a chat.
A number of discussions have started as a result of the consultation process so it will be exciting to see if some of those ideas can come to fruition in the coming months.
So thank you again to all of you who contributed your views to the consultation process – including those who were prepared to challenge us and check we had thought about all the issues. We have considered all of your views carefully and will continue to listen as we move forward with the project.
You can continue to email your ideas and opinions, whether encouraging or challenging, to firstname.lastname@example.org
From all the members of St Mary’s Church Council