Re-imagining St Luke’s: -An update on the redevelopment project March 2018

What are we planning to do?
What does the state of our current building and its surrounding say about the God we worship? The dark, inflexible and poor state of the current building hinders rather than helps the work of mission and ministry of St Luke’s in this challenging and diverse urban context. Now is the time to change that. Our vision is to redevelop St Luke’s to fulfil the mission of God in the heart of the city.

Making this vision a reality involves making some significant Improvements to the building and facilities at St Luke’s. These changes will make the church more visible and accessible to the people who live work or study in our local area. We want St Luke’s to be at the heart of the community, open throughout the week for everyone, whether you express a faith or not.

The church building has been neglected for many years. It is on the National Churches at risk register. The changes planned to the church include:

  • Essential structural work on the church to deal with the neglect
  • A new light bright entrance, a new café and co-worker space
  • A new floor and removal of the pews
  • A refreshed chapel space, families area, vestry and flower preparation space
  • More storage, restored and repainted walls
  • A new industrial kitchen and improved lighting, sound and wifi
  • Removal of scrubland and underpass that currently mask the view of St Luke’s
  • Creating green quiet space and an urban garden

Although the first phase of the project will focus on the church itself, there are also significant mission opportunities offered by the redevelopment of the main hall areas as well.

The plans include provision for a number of residential apartments on the site as well as quality flexible community hall and office space next to the church. Potential leasing partners expressing firm interests include YMCA, Charter Academy and Portsmouth Pathway. The purpose for doing this additional development is:

  • To generate sustainable income flows to support mission at St Luke’s
  • To provide facilities that will serve young adults and young families in the community in a way that is congruent with our mission.

Why are we doing it?

St Luke’s is located at the heart of the city close to Portsmouth and Southsea station and the Guildhall. The Somerstown community and much of the university lie within the parish boundaries together with Charter Academy, the Church of England secondary school. The community St Luke’s serves is amongst the poorest in the country.  Yet this urban context is changing rapidly. There is increasing retail presence and a new hotel. New student accommodation opposite the church was opened in September 2016. A further development is due for completion in September 2018. Close to the church, the Council is closing two underpasses, implementing traffic calming measures and creating pedestrian areas.

The changes to the church and other buildings on site will help us to make real our vision:

  • To become a church with visible connection and meaning to those who live, work or study in this community: one that is open throughout the week for everyone, whether you express a faith or not.
  • To offer a safe place of genuine welcome, creativity and surprise where the transforming love found in Jesus Christ is experienced and embraced.

Doing nothing is not an option. The time is right.

Where have we got to so far?

There are three strands to completing this project.

  • Building delivery

Duncan McKellar, the project architect has created some exciting and innovative plans for the reshaping of the church and hall buildings. The latest plans, due to be presented to the Church and city planners, will be available to view in church from Sunday 8 April.

  • Securing funding for the project

Partial funding has come from the sale of St Peter’s Church and Hall. The rest of the money will come from grants and community fundraising. We are working with Andrew Peel, an experienced fundraising strategist. Andrew has already identified a number of charitable trusts to which we will be applying for funding. The opportunities that the improvements in our building presents mean we will need more staff working at St Luke’s. With this in mind, we have been invited to apply for funding for two new full time posts as part of the next Diocesan bid for mission funding from the Church Commissioners.

  • Engaging the community in this project

To become a church with visible connection and meaning to those who live, work or study in this community, we need to listen and not presume we know what the building should be like and used for.  So we have taken time to build relationships of trust with our local schools, residents, University and our neighbours in the Foyer. We have also worked with our Ward Councillor and local MP, Stephen Morgan who has agreed to endorse the project and help raise its profile in the City.

What is happening in the next few months?

To make these significant changes to the church and other building, we need planning permission from

  • The Diocese (DAC)
  • The Council planners

We anticipate this will be achieved by September this year.

After helpful feedback from the Council Planning Department, we are preparing for a further meeting on 27 March. If all goes well, we will submit our final planning application to the Council in April.

During April and May, we hope the DAC will also confirm the decision to approve overall building plans and the details of the changes to be made inside the church. Members of the MDG will be working hard to prepare the faculty application detailing all the proposed changes.

Once we have secured planning permission, we can start to apply for funding from a number of grant making bodies. We will also host an evening event to raise the profile of the project in the City and update potential partners.

What will it cost?

The project will be done in stages. We will begin with the church and the likely cost will be £1m of which we already have £500,000 from the sale of St Peter’s Church and Hall. Ann Earnshaw, our appointed Quantity Surveyor is currently costing the revised scheme in detail.

What might delay the project?

  • Delays in gaining planning permission
  • Delays in securing sufficient funding
  • Loss of key people on the project

 Who is helping complete the project?

The Mission Development Group was formed in September 2015 to facilitate that process of re-imagination and re-development of St Luke’s and ensure its delivery. The group is accountable to St Luke’s PCC.   Mission rather than building development group reflects our commitment to keep the reason for undertaking the project in clear focus. The building is a tool to enable to the fulfilment of our mission. It is not an end in itself.

The current members of the Mission Development Group are:

  • Bradley Albuery (MDG Chair)
  • Annie McCabe(MDG Secretary)
  • Sandra Rampton (MDG Treasurer)
  • Chris Redgrave
  • Trevor Webster
  • Tim Rampton

We also are working with several contractors who are providing support and expertise at key points in the project. Costs are being tightly controlled.

What can I do to help?

There are loads of ways you can get involved now and in the next stages of the project.  Please speak with Bradley or Annie to find out more.

One of the most important is to pray for the project. We need to rely on God’s wisdom, guidance and provision to make this happen

One of the guiding principles of the MDG reflects this

Unless the Lord builds the house, we labour in vain. Prayer and action are both essential