St Jude’s Grade II listed church building was built in 1875 to provide a place of worship and to meet the changing needs of a rapidly developing Plymouth population. It has served the local congregation well for round 145 years as a church, but it is limited in its ability to serve current and future generations for anything other than Sunday worship. Our Halls are also now fully utilised in our Community connections. We are keen to work with and for our local community, but our buildings restrict us so much now. A pilot project in partnership with our local GP’s, Councillors, Housing Association etc – St Jude’s Community Hub Cafe – is thriving, quickly showing there is a need, but it is limited in its scope and is rapidly running out of space – it is just a foretaste of partnership that can be available if we can fulfill the vision for this project.
We have been working on the project since the Autumn of 2006, gaining full Local Authority and Church planning permissions (called a Faculty). The project was site wide and the Church part was extensive. (The video here shows those original plans) However, as it took so long to get final listed building permissions, circumstances came about that we couldn’t predict including changes to the way Charities and Trusts now funded capital community projects that were different when we began. The percentages we knew the project could potentially attract when we began, were now either much less or just no longer available for this type of project,
The church congregation (about 100 people), over and above their normal giving, donated around £400,000 over five years, in addition to a similar sum from the sale of two buildings we owned. Roofs and the Spire were repaired, all the guttering and underground drainage replaced, driveways widened, the Church Cottage refurbished for potential future inclusion, electrical supplies replaced, glazing protected etc etc. But as we got ready to put in applications for the remaining funds, the changes to potential donors outlooks had happened.
Therefore, we reduced the scale of the work, trying to incorporate much of what was in the original, though now for a sum we hope we can just go ahead with without significant further fund raising. The project, along with all the prior work, will have been fulfilled by just the Church congregation as our era’s gift to the ‘next era’ of the church and community. Below is a simple drawing of the direction we’re now hoping to deliver. We have shared the design with an initial site meeting of the Diocesan Advisory Committee who encouraged us to now continue. In early April 2020 we employed the Architects and Consultants and the worked up designs and drawings are now underway. There are still meetings to resolve the detail, but we’re hopeful we’ll achieve something very close to this. After the full permissions for the above initial project, we’re fairly sure this reduced version will surely be acceptable and that we can start work in 2021.
We hope that, as with the grand stately homes and the history that is told through their various extensions and upgrades when they were living buildings, that folk will see the living history of this wonderful building through its many stages of life as it has served its community from one era, to the next, to the next. Its structure is being well preserved. The prior designs were very rigorously investigated through heritage groups and the listings process for permissions, as will this new reduced vision. The resulting new internal re-arrangement will still honour the past, while presenting a series of flexible spaces for the whole community to be able to use, not just the church congregation. (If you want to read some more in the Church’s history, follow this link)
We do have two church halls, each over 100 years old, whose facilities are restricted though we have also worked hard to improve them with new boilers, re-wiring etc and in 2018 spending some £20,000 on new ramps to ease access with fantastic help from several charities. While we still manage to include providing around 150 under 18’s a safe space each week, including our Ofsted approved Pre-School for under 5’s, we are unable to offer the community the facilities it really needs until we change the church. It is the largest potential space within the wider area that currently can really only be used for church Sunday services. There are no toilets in the building so a short walk is needed to one of our halls. It has very inadequate heating (We have brought forward some additional heaters and new power supplies that were planned for the main original project) and there are no catering facilities. There is difficult disabled access for some. It is a standard, pewed, badly lit, uneven floored, Victorian church.
This project will make the church a community asset 7 days a week.
Now, St Jude’s is ready to undergo major renovation, making it ‘new’ again to respond to the needs in its local area, both as a place of worship and as a functional, accessible building for the wider community, including:
Transforming the traditional ‘church’ interior into a multi-functional, flexible, well-equipped set of varied spaces
A simple servery
Up to date audio and visual facilities
New lighting and heating
Superfast Broadband & WiFi
A café / meeting area
Fully disabled accessible toilets
Wide and flat disabled access in all areas
In an area with very few facilities for the community, these major improvements will enable the church to provide for things like:
Purpose designed spaces, hosting anything from small meetings to conferences for 150
Safe play for toddlers
Spaces for the community to use
A space to host events from outside agencies
We hope you’re as excited as we are about the future of St Jude’s within its community for the ‘next era’ of its life. If you want to find out any more, do feel free to contact us.