Building Project ~ Where are we now…

Building Project ~ Where are we now…

Where are we with our building project?

We are at a crucial stage of our project to bring about substantial internal alterations to the church building. Following what has proved to be a mammoth exercise, we will be submitting our grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), by hand, on Friday 4 January 2008.

It has been calculated that the total project costs, both capital and revenue, will be £1.26 M and we are seeking to secure £740,000 towards these costs from HLF. We expect to know the outcome of our grant application by the end of June 2008. A fundraising strategy is in place to secure the remaining partnership funding for the project to enable works to start in January 2009.

Following completion of construction works towards the end of 2009, the long-term sustainability of the project will be ensured through income from both user groups and visitors, external funding sources and a continuing fundraising programme aimed at securing complete financial independence within 3 years.

The last major change to the building took place more than 100 years ago, in 1868 when the Chancel roof was lowered to the same level as that over the nave and necessitated Divine Service to be held, temporarily, under license in the Town Hall. In the same year the pew-boxes were removed and replaced by the present deal pews and the Sanctuary was completely rebuilt by the lay Proprietor, the Earl of Harewood.

The current proposals aim to meet the present day needs and expectations of the local and wider community and celebrate the 900 years of history and heritage of the building.

The project also coincides with the publication of the Pontefract Town Centre Masterplan in July 2007, which is part of the “Five Towns Strategic Development Framework” sponsored by Yorkshire Forward to identify key areas of activity and proposals for the town and to act as a springboard for regeneration and renaissance. An extract from the report reads: –

 “We consider St Giles as one of the jewels in Pontefract’s historical offer with an important role in supporting the development of Pontefract as a tourist destination.  The church also has an important role in supporting the local community and has plans to develop its facilities in this regard.”

The Plans

Three-dimensional plans and sketches are on display in the church and we are now inviting comments on the proposals prior to detailed drawings being produced.

The alterations will bring about Improvements in all forms of access to the building as well as the creation of a wide range of heritage learning opportunities and activities.  A spacious new reception area will be created accommodating a community cafe, shop, toilets, exhibition area and information point and a re-modelled worship area will enable greater flexibility for a wide range of uses such as performances, conferences, exhibitions and cultural activities.  Improved access and increased space on new upper floors will enable these areas to be developed as an education resource for community use in multi-purpose spaces.  Rooms will provide space for the Jobclub/IT suite, areas for local charities, clubs and other organisations.

The project will also provide a central location in the town from which to access information about Pontefract’s rich heritage and it is proposed that a number of heritage groups will also have their base in the building under the umbrella organisation of Pontefract Groups Together.  The alterations will benefit the large number of people currently visiting and using the building as well as attracting greater numbers of visitors through increased participation opportunities and improved access, particularly for young people (schools), disadvantaged and special interest groups, individuals and tourists.

Achieving our objective

The principal risk to the project is being unable to secure sufficient funding at each stage.  The fundraising strategy requires a substantial contribution to be made by the church itself. As stated in the October magazine, everyone associated with St Giles will, in the New Year, be requested to pledge an amount of money, either as a lump sum or a regular amount over the next 2 years. We are aiming to raise a minimum of £175,000 from direct giving and a further £25,000 from fundraising activities. The balance will be sought from external grant making bodies, other organisations and individuals.

As stated in earlier reports, the achievement of the project is very much dependant of the success of the Heritage Lottery Fund application. If this application is successful it should be possible for building works to commence in early 2009. If our application is unsuccessful a more limited scheme will be implemented to develop the West end of the church to provide improved facilities for church and community use with the remainder of the building remaining largely unaltered.

There is every intention to undertake the internal alterations to the building in one form or another and all contributions pledged at this time will be used for this purpose.

For further information about the proposals please have a word with any of the Building Group members – Fr Bob, John Barber, Bevil Edwards, Peter Lavine, David Leigh, Ulric Murray, Sheila Roydhouse, Elaine Troughton, Tom Watson, Alan Bell (Parish Administrator), John Colvill.

Bill Bradley Chairman, Building Group