Phase 1 of the project is about transforming the entrance to the church and the spaces surrounding it. Once finished it will provide a transparent, public facing, welcoming entrance space, which will be able to house a coffee shop and bookshop, as well as having space for holding events or just meeting and chatting.
The entrance will lead round the side of the church to connect with two houses on Sackville Street, just behind the church, which will hold office space for use by community groups, a prayer room and, very importantly, new toilets suitable for a large congregation.
To give space for all of this new building, the existing entrance lobby, toilets, kitchen and West End room will all be demolished, opening up the historic West End wall of the church again. A door will be opened up in this wall to allow a direct easy entrance into the worship space.
The two houses in Sackville Street that will form part of the project were purchased by the church three years ago with the intention to incorporate them into any plans for redevelopment. While they are intended for community use in the long term, they will be great space for the church staff and other meetings during phase two of the redevelopment.
The Phase 1 work has received full planning consent from the council, and consent from the Diocese of Oxford. A competitive tendering process has been completed and a decision on a main contractor is likely to be made in May 2020.
Work on site is expected to begin in mid-June 2020, depending on the restrictions around Covid-19, and to last about a year.