St Peter's - plans for the 21st century
First ideas for a church annex were much larger than the one now being built
The first idea for an annex to St Peter's was a large "L-shaped" extension attached to the north east corner of the church. This was designed by our architect Purcell Miller Tritton (now Purcell UK) and would have provided all the ancillary space required. However, it was rejected because of the high impact on the east end of the chancel, the Norman Chapel and nearby churchyard.
Consultation and communication
There followed an extensive consultation process to explore the options to provide the facilities required at St Peter's. A questionnaire was widely distributed asking whether there was support in principle for a moderate sized annex at the rear of the church and for views on its visibility, architectural style, size, and the proposed facilities that it should include.
This was followed by church "Open Days" to present the results of the questionnaire and there were presentations on:
- Learning from visits to extensions at other churches
- Possible locations for an annex
- "Needs analysis" to support a fully functional church
- Building over a grave yard
- The construction process
There was substantial support from the church congregation but a number of concerns needed to be addressed.
In the subsequent development of ideas further "Open Days", Communication Newsletters and an article in the "The Rock" church magazine were used to keep the congregation and village informed.
Evolution of "hybrid" plans
Plans to reduce the size of an extension attached to the church led in 2009 to a split-site design. This was a modest annex on the north east corner of St Peter's to properly support worship related activities (vicar's office, sacristy, clergy vestry, choir vestry) and essential crèche space and toilets
The other ancillary facilities might then have been located in the vicinity of the Hearse House. Although the Hearse House is much too small by itself, the practicality of building onto the Hearse House was considered and the architects produced sketches.
At this point another consultation "Open Day" was held.
However, the "hybrid option" had to be abandoned because the planners would not allow a building higher than the roof of the Hearse House (which is less than 2 storeys high) and cost of acquiring the necessary land adjacent to the churchyard behind the Chemist's Shop was too high.
Final annex plans that meets essential church needs
In 2010 and early 2011 more analysis with our architects led to the plans that we finally submitted for Cheshire East Council Planning Approval and church Faculty Approval.
By including additional floors in the existing choir vestry at the east end of the north aisle of St Peter's church, demolishing the vicars vestry which was deemed to be of domestic proportions and of little architectural merit by heritage experts, and adding a first floor to part of the annex attached to the NE corner of church, there was space to provide nearly all of the facilities required to meet both worship and social needs of the clergy and congregation.
The existing choir vestry will contain a new clergy vestry, sacristy and one toilet with baby change, all on the ground floor. There will be a new choir vestry on the first floor and a storeroom for less frequently used church books, equipment and the music library on a second floor. The church will then function effectively for worship (its fundamental purpose) completely independently of the annex.
The annex will house the church office, more toilets (including a fully accessible facility for disabled people) and a kitchen with cooking capability. There will be a comfortable carpeted church meeting room with cupboard space for crèche equipment so that this space can be used for very small children and babies during the main Sunday morning service. There will also be a hard-floored mingling space on the ground floor of sufficient size for larger meetings or sit-down meals. On the first floor there will be a modest sized meeting/music/creative arts room and a balcony with a small meeting space.
The annex can be used completely independently of the church for meetings such as PCC, prayer groups, Mothers Union, Alpha courses, etc. and the church congregation can move from church to the annex for social activities such as refreshments after services.
The church and annex will have completely separate entrances from the churchyard so that simultaneous, but independent, use of both at the same time is possible, or one can be used while the other is securely closed off.
Approval of annex plans
After much deliberation a final set of plans for the annex on the north east corner of St Peter's was considered by Cheshire East Council Northern Planning Committee on 21st September 2011 and the plans were approved.
In parallel the plan to develop Ford House for church use, with town houses at the rear, had been submitted for Planning Approval. This was not considered by the Cheshire East Council Northern Planning Committee until 7th September 2012, and then refused.
Following Council Planning Approval for the annex to St Peter's the church prepared and submitted a Faculty Application to the Diocese of Chester on 6th December 2011. This included the annex and the proposed changes in the existing church building as both of these required Faculty approval. The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) reviewed the submission and a formal Petition for a Faculty was issued on 5th April 2012.
In accordance with church regulations a Public Consultation was then carried out. There were many letters supporting the Petition and others objecting to it. Eighteen Formal Objectors emerged and the Chancellor of the Diocese initiated the legal process to decide the Petition. Witnesses for each side prepared and submitted Statements of Evidence and could be called for cross-examination if the Chancellor decided to hold a Consistory Court. One Formal Objector withdrew at this stage. The Chancellor decided that a Consistory Court should be held on 27th July 2013. His Judgement in favour of the Petitioners was published on 7th September 2013.
The full text of the Consistory Court Judgement is available
The final plans
The church is now entering the construction phase of the development and the detailed plans of what will be built are shown on the pages linked below:
Things we will not miss:
Coffee squashed into the south porch...
Vestry basin too small to fill a kettle...
Water for refreshments from outside tap..
Inadequate spaces for young church...
Crèche cramed in corner of choir vestry...
Music library under church pews....
Inadequate choir robe hanging space....
No more north aisle bottleneck....