God has given us a fantastic site in central Reading, one that allows us to play an active part in the life of the town centre and to serve the community. Our buildings are all the result of people, at different times, acting on a vision of what God was calling the church to be.
With the prospect of a new sense of vision for Greyfriars under David Walker’s leadership, the PCC agreed in mid 2016 that work on building options should re-start. In early March the Redevelopment Group presented the outline of an overall scheme to the PCC who agreed that this provided a good basis on which to consult the congregation as a whole. Details of the proposals can be found by clicking on this link:- Redevelopment Proposals.
The consultation period will run until 21st June. There will be an opportunity to come together for an information and prayer evening on 16th May. There will also be a half week of prayer in mid June
During the consultation period if you want to comment, ask a question about the plans, or want information to help you pray please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions and Answers. (This section will be updated on a regular basis to reflect the questions coming forward)
Are the Borough Council and/or the heritage organisations likely to accept such a big new ‘Centre’?
We won’t know for sure until we talk to them, but in discussions on the last scheme they were happy with the idea of quite a large new building provided that the main bulk of it was clearly separate from the church.
How does the scale of the proposed buildings compare with the previous scheme?
The space available for church staff and ministries is roughly half the area provided by the previous scheme. If you add the residential accommodation and the provision for partner organisations that takes it to about two-thirds the size (excluding the previous underground car-parking).
Couldn’t we just refurbish the Centre and West End?
Clearly it would be possible to do that, though we know the buildings have multiple problems and it is impossible to say how much a full refurbishment/refit might cost. But at the end of the day we would still be left with buildings ill-suited to our vision. The frontage onto Friar St would be as unwelcoming as ever. The bookshop and café would still be lost at the bottom of the car-park. The staff offices and meeting rooms would be fragmented across the Sackville St houses and the Centre. And we would have no scope to grow our own ministries or to support partner organisations.”
Would the Council support the provision of residential accommodation within the scheme?
We have met Councillor Tony Page (leader of the Planning Committee) to discuss the possible components of the scheme. He was very keen for us to make the best use of the site and to consider the inclusion of “low cost” housing to meet our staff’s future housing needs.
The provision for the bookshop seems much smaller than at present. Why is this?
The significant advantage of locating the bookshop much nearer to Friar Street and passing shoppers has to be balanced with the circulation and coffee bar space in the new atrium. Secure display space for materials is available around the walls and there could be free-standing displays as well – the area marked as ‘bookshop’ on the plans is for the till-point only.
Will there be a kitchen in the entrance atrium?
The proposal is that the coffee bar would serve most catering in that area, e.g. Sunday services and regular midweek events. It would be supplemented by the main kitchen as required.
Has any monetary value been ascribed to the residential accommodation above the New Centre?
No. Like the former Curate’s house at Prospect Street the proposed intern space and the apartments are conceived to provide low cost housing to help support future ministry and are intended to remain in the ownership and control of the church.
Could the extent of the residential accommodation be reduced to cut costs?
The residential component of the new centre uses all the available airspace above the new ministry and shared work space areas and is the most cost effective way to provide new low cost housing to support future ministry. The extent of this accommodation could be reduced however and the consultation process offers the opportunity for us to hear from God as to the level of investment we should make in such accommodation.