Sunday, 9 September 2012

What has happened to the D&R (Development & Renewal Group)?

Over the past 2 years, the D&R group met regularly to create momentum and focus for an overall strategy for Christ Church. They, with the agreement of the PCC, created an overall vision for the next hundred years at Christ Church and began to formulate plans to create a sustainable and forward looking church community in Swindon. 
This focus enabled us to kick start the development process. Grant applications to the Borough and to other agencies, alongside a review of our own assets and priorities, as well as a programme of fund and awareness raising, have now put us in a position to move forward with a phased approach to the overall development and renewal strategy.
Having got this far, it is now essential that everything that is done over the next 2-5 years is driven and informed by the overall parish plan. To ensure that we engage our own experts and interest groups in the future decision making and to ensure that the plans are properly co-ordinated, we have devolved the on-going activities of the former D&R group, into our current committee structure but with a couple of small changes.
  • Site Development & Buildings – project managing the delivery of the community centre & managing our properties day to day – led by Stephen Grosvenor & Mike Palmer
  • Mission & Evangelism – ensuring that the church delivers effective, outward looking Christian learning programmes and promoting and supporting Christian projects worldwide- led by Norma McKemey & Martin Lee.
  • Children & Young People -  Working to support, nurture, and affirm the contribution of children and young people in church life, and to reach out and engage with those in our wider community - led by Janice Titcombe & Trudie Wigley
  • Community Networks – ensuring that we develop and maintain strong links with our local community, groups, businesses and individuals – led by Daphne Hardwick & David Morrison
  • Church Family -Strengthening church family relationships and providing pastoral care- led by Anne Macmillan & Pam Bridgeman
  • Financial Stewardship & Resources – ensuring that we manage and grow our resources led by Chris Raven & Gareth Hutchinson.
Lynda Fisher  one of our churchwardens has agreed to oversee the committees and she will be assisted by Claire Beaton, Ailsa Palmer and Simon Stevenette. Each committee has 2 leaders and these leaders will meet periodically to share ideas and progress.  All trustees of the PCC are members of one of the six groups.
To summarise, the work of the renewal and development group has now become part of our “business as usual” process. Each of the groups has a clear remit and has formulated their own targets which together, deliver the overall church plan for renewal and development. You can read about this plan as well as seethe work of the individual committees here. The Development & Renewal fund will remain as a place to donate gifts specifically to fund Christ Church’s renewal vision.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Update on Renewal Programme

Full Grant funding has been made available for 3 years to appoint someone into this key role to help us manage both the Community Centre & the community use of St Mary's and build links out into our community.


Project Planning Progress

Planning Permission & Grant Funding from the Borough is in place for the new Community Centre (which, as now, will be run by Christ Church). We are now considering build methods, engaging  suppliers to provide outline costs with a view to securing detailed specifications and costs by October, with a Contractor being appointed by the end of this year.

Antony Feltham-King will remain our Architect, also acting as an advisor and consultant throughout this important phase. Antony will help us develop the specifications, introduce potential companies and make our applications for the required consents from the Diocesan Advisory Committee.


We have received the first part of the £230,000 Section 106 Grant from the Borough, which coupled with the £245,000 remaining from the sale of the Devizes Road Hall, the existing £26,000 in the Development & Renewal Accounts and a £5,000 Grant received from the Weston Foundation, leaves a not inconsiderable available ‘pot’  totalling £506,000.

We have also recently completed the sale of Upham Road making another £208,000 available, and continue to pursue other Grant sources to secure additional monies between now and April 2013.

The estimated current project cost is in the region of £670,000. Obviously, we will make every effort to minimise these costs, seeking to leave monies available to maintain momentum for the next stages of the Programme. In the worst case i.e. with no additional grant funding, we would still have enough to complete the Centre and some smaller projects within the Church building itself.
The Community centre should be completed by July 2013.

Phase 1

We are planning to complete three smaller projects in 2013-2014 :-

  • Replacement of the lighting, to significantly reduce maintenance & running costs and give more flexible, efficient & effective lighting. (£30,000)
  • To improve the heating, we must first plan restoration of the West Porch to reduce drafts. (£25,000)
  • Upgrade & improve Audio/Visual system (£25,000)

Phase 2
Building a toilet at this time does not represent good value for money, so this will be integrated into the later work in the Church on the heating and flooring.

In order to minimise costs, we are investigating ways to retain the central pews by making them free standing to maximise flexibility to re-configure the interior space. This and the removal of the few remaining aisle pews would save up to £45,000 (the cost of the proposed replacement stackable pews).
Subject to raising the required funding, we will then level and re-surface the floor and replace the heating system with an Under floor & radiator based system. Our latest estimate for this work is £400,000.

It is unlikely that any of this work could be started before 2014/15 due to wedding commitments, and lack of funds.

If anyone wishes to discuss any aspect of the above in more detail or get involved with the programme, then our project managers, Mike Palmer or Stephen Grosvenor will be happy to talk to you.

Stephen : 01793 341034 -
Mike : 01793 436220 -

Monday, 7 May 2012

English Heritage - Information on Renewal

English Heritage have published a helpful booklet on all aspects of renovation for places of worship. It contains advice on heating systems and how to approach major alterations to church buildings. You can read it here.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Update from the Development & Renewal Group

Listen to the presentation made on Sunday March 11th by Sara Tye and Lynda Fisher from Christ Church Development & renewal group on our progress and latest plans.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Watch a video update on our latest renewal plans

We are making good progress towards our development and renewal aims and want as many people as possible to understand what we are proposing and why we are doing it. You can see a video here which gives the latest position.

If you have any questions you can contact us via the parish office - 01793 522832 or or via this Renewal blog.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Great Toilet Debate

We recently had a visit from the Bristol Diocesan Advisory Committee, a group that advises on change in the church. Members of the Development and Renewal group met them to update them on our current plans for renewal. You can find some more details of our latest proposals on the noticeboard at the back of the church as well as on a video here.

In general the DAC were very positive and encouraging about our plans but were disappointed that we had given up on the provision of toilet and refreshment facilities within the church itself. Apparently there are many success stories for this sort of project and experience shows that provision of such services can have a positive effect. We were therefore persuaded to take another look.

Mike Palmer and Stephen Grosvenor set out to visit a number of churches where toilets had been installed within the fabric of the church building. Their first port of call was St Thomas in Salisbury where our architect, Anthony Feltham King had been involved in installing a POD system of toilet and a kitchen.

The installation is to a very high specification and incorporates a large disabled toilet, kitchen and flower room.  Access to the toilet is discreetly place on the left hand side.

The unit is completely sound proof and when not in use, closes into a plain curved box.

From a practical point of view this is a convenient although potentially quite expensive solution.

We also visited St Sampson's church in Cricklade to see how they had incorporated a disabled toilet and survery into a previously un-used and unloved part of the church. Once again the toilets were accessed by a corridor so that no-one needs to loiter about in full view whilst waiting to go. This arrangement has now been in use for more than 3 years and has been a great success - winning over, we were assured, even those who had been steadfast in their initial opposition to the idea.

We are now looking once again at our own spaces - particularly at the North Transept and the North West corner. As soon as we have some specific proposals we will of course look for comments and suggestions as usual. In the meantime if you would like to give us your thoughts on toilet and refreshment provisions within the church then please either comment on this article or send an email to the

Development & Renewal Team

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Burial ground mapping & research

We have prepared plans of the burial ground to the north side of the leisure centre in order to survey the graves and monuments located there. Since the slope to the existing building is so steep, we are investigating alternative ways to access a new building which we hope to put up in early 2013.

This may involve re-locating a small number of stones to adjacent parts of the burial ground. We have created the plan, a photographic record and full transcription of the most likely to be affected graves so that surviving family members can be contacted and consulted on the moves.

We have no intention of moving or disturbing the graves themselves and where moves are to be made, we will try to put them in more prominent positions and at the same time, make efforts to restore and clean the stones.

 No firm design or plans have been made yet, research is still underway to find interested parties, we expect to begin to firm up plans towards the middle of 2012.

If you think that you may be affected by this plan or know of someone who may have an interest in it then please contact Stephen Grosvenor or 01793 341034.

You can download:

the plan here
the monument transcriptions here

and see the photo graphic record here

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Christ Church, Swindon Development and Renewal Strategy

This paper sets out the strategy for progressing the revitalisation of Christ Church and its Church Centre.  The strategy was approved unanimously by the Parochial Church Council on 25th July 2011.

 Church Centre

We have agreed that the redevelopment of the Church Centre should be progressed using moneys from the “106 fund” available from Swindon Borough Council and the currently “restricted” fund that arose from the sale of the former Church Hall in Devizes Road.

The existing Church Centre would require extensive repairs in the near future if it were to continue to be used, butthat option has been discounted because it would extend the life of the building for only a limited period.

The total redevelopment of the Church Centre offers an exciting opportunity to provide a modern facility for both community and Church use.

A co-ordinated redevelopment of the site has many advantages:

  • Potential to use the restricted funds from the sale of the former Church Hall.
  • Eligibility to use the Borough Council’s available “106 fund” (£200,000).
  • Updated and improved facilities (better disabled access, toilets, kitchen etc).
  • ILower running costs through more efficient heating and insulation.
  • Accommodation of a purpose-built parish office on the Church site, allowing the sale of the existing office at 36 Cricklade Street.
  • More storage space and less clutter
  • Improved  facilities for greater and a wider range of community use.
  • It may be possible to attract additional community grant funding for this option.
Christ Church

While the Church Centre is being redeveloped, plans will to be consolidated for the revitalisation of the the Church building.

Previous efforts have focused on replacing the roof first. Although there would be some merit in this, it would cost approximately £450,000, but has so far attracted very little support from grant and other funding bodies. This is partly because of the value of the assets currently showing in the Church accounts. It would take a huge effort to raise that level of funding in the current financial climate, while offering no obvious or immediate benefit to the Church or the wider community.

We therefore recommend that works inside the Church, which would have a more tangible impact and benefit for the Church (and community), are progressed ahead of work on the roof that is not urgently required.


Our preferred option is for under-floor heating. This would be zoned and supplemented by wall-mounted radiators. The heat source would be provided by two coupled gas boilers located in the old boiler room under the vestry.

This would require the removal of the existing floor, and the laying of a new floor which would contain insulation and the heating matrix. It would also have the advantage of providing a level surface throughout the main body of the Church, which would allow free disabled access and greater flexibility in the use of the building.

The new Church Centre would be available to use for worship while this disruptive work iscarried out in the Church.      


One our key concerns in the renewal plan is to create a more flexible and more comfortable seating space in the Church. Work to replace the heating and level the floor would require the removal of the existing pews. Surveys have indicated a range of views amongst members of the congregation about the possibility of permanently removing the pews. We propose to replace the existing pews with lighter, more comfortable and portable stacking pews in the body of the Church. We would also remove the remaining aisle pews and replace them with the existing chairs. This would provide greater flexibility in the use of the Church and more comfortable seating, but would require careful consultation with the Diocesan Advisory Committee and other interested parties such as English Heritage and the Victorian Society..


Further investigation is required into the merits of possibly installing a glazed screen across the west end of the Church. This would provide an area  for meeting and greeting before entering the main body of the Church, and reduce heat loss and draughts from open doors.. The design of a screen would need to be compatible with any revised layout of the building to avoid compromising its flexible use.  IIn addition, there is a need to improve the draught-proofing on the main west and south porch doors. We are committed to ensuring that the renewed Church interior is cost effective and efficient to run, but this aspect requires further thought before recommendations are made.


Further research and costings are needed before recommendations can be made, but in keeping with our commitments to reduce energy costs and environmental impacts, and improve the interior of the building, we consider it to be an important part of the development process.

Audio/ visual

Because of changes to the frequencies at which radio-microphones may be operated, we will be legally required to make changes to the Church’s existing audio system in 2012 in order for it to continue to be used.  In making those changes, we are also considering additional options to upgrade the system and enhance our audio/visual facilities.

 Cleaning Internal Walls

The internal walls of the Church are dirty and stained, and would benefit from thorough, professional cleaning. This would lighten the interior of the building and provide a more inviting atmosphere. However, there would be little merit in carrying this out until roof repairs have been completed, as further water staining from leaks would occur before and during the roof works. It is recommended that this work is deferred until after the roof works have been completed.

Funding for interior Church works

Although further analysis is required to confirm the estimated  costs of the proposed works, it is felt that some of them could be undertaken using funds made available from pledges, fund-raising events and existing resources that could be released from within the Church accounts. The latter are:-

  • The remainder of any moneys from the sale of the former Church Hall that could be de-restricted.
  • Proceeds from the proposed sale of the existing Parish Office.
  • Proceeds from the proposed sale of the house owned by the Church in Upham Road
Removing those assets from the Church balance sheet would make it more likely that we would be able to apply successfully for grants towards the costs of other aspects of the development and renewal programme

Church Roof

The past 5 quinquennial reports have commented on the condition of the existing slates and lead gutters, and the latest recommends re-roofing within the next 5 years. Currently the Church is managing this by undertaking reactive repairs as necessary. Although this approach cannot be continued indefinitely, the roof is not currently showing signs of significant leaks or deterioration.

It is recommended that the current maintenance regime is continued with annual provision being made for patching and repair as necessary. While the interior works are underway, drawings, specifications and contracts will be progressed. These will add support to any grant applications that are to be submitted for the roof works. Consideration will also be given to installing photo-voltaic cells on the roof to help reduce future electricity costs. These could be demountable to allow future maintenance of the roof.

Summary of proposals

1.  Use the contribution available from the Borough Council’s “106 fund”, and some of the “restricted” money from the sale of the former Church Hall, to replace the existing Church Centre with a new and  larger modular building incorporating a hall, kitchen, toilets, meeting rooms and Parish Office.

A small group has been formed from members of the Development and Renewal Group and the wider community to work with our architect and Swindon Borough Council to plan and progress this project. The group will report back to the Development and Renewal Group and the PCC.

2.  Sell the existing Parish Office (and possibly the curate’s house in Upham Road) and use the proceeds, together with any residual funds that can be de-restricted from the sale of the Church Hall, grants and fund-raising income, to carry out the proposed work to the interior of the Church, commencing with the heating, seating and floor.

3.  Following the interior works, concentrate efforts on fund-raising and grant applications for repairs to the Church roof, external walls and rainwater goods. The work to the roof could be carried out in phases as funds permit.

This report marks the end of a long period of investigation, discussion and research. It outlines the approach that we plan to take to develop and renew the Christ Church site.

Plans are being developed for the design of the new church centre, and work has  started to evaluate the scope and costs of the above proposals, on which we would very much welcome your comments and suggestions.

If you would like to find out more or get involved in the project, please contact any member of the Development andRenewal Group or the Parish Office (01793 522832)  or read and contribute to the Renewal Blog at

Members of the Development and Renewal Group 

Pam Bridgeman
Lynda Fisher
Peter Ford
Stephen Grosvenor
Gareth Hutchinson
Norma McKemey
Bernard Oxborrow
Mike Palmer
Ailsa Palmer
Daniel Pitt
SImon Stevenette
Trudie Wigley

Monday, 11 July 2011

Update on Renewal Plans for our Hall

As a part of the Renewal and Development of the Christ Church site, we are planning to build a new community centre. This will replace our current leisure centre which has served the community for the past 40 years. Our intention is to create a larger, better equipped and more flexible building that will meet the needs of the local community for years to come.
We have been discussing with local councillors, an opportunity to make an application for 106 Development funds which, if successful, will give us a substantial contribution towards the costs of the new building. We intend also to release some of our own funds and apply for further grants from other bodies to complete the works.

We have the full support of the Old Town Church leaders and are consulting with other Old Town community groups, and other interested parties to ensure that we can reflect their needs in our designs.

We are setting up a working group, a sub group of the Christ Church Development & Renewal group, who will manage the development stages of the project. This will include members from the church, council and community representatives.

As an important feature of the Old Town conservation area, we are mindful or our responsibilities in preserving the unique and historic qualities of our site and will be working closely with Conservation and Heritage experts to ensure that our development is both sensitive and effective. Later on this year we will also host an open day to provide more information on our plans.

Although at an early stage, we are working towards submitting a fully costed plan to council planning by the end of this year. If you would like to find out more or get involved with the project, then please contact Stephen Grosvenor on 01793 341043, email him on or read  and comment on our Renewal Blog at

The Development & Renewal Group

Friday, 4 February 2011

Repairing the roof and Solar energy use

I’m sure the Church would look very nice with all the stonework cleaned but since joining Christ Church back in 1959I have always been hearing about the problems we are having with the roof. As we get high winds up on the hill one feels the roof is an ongoing problem we have to live with. With this in mind, and I’m all for having it cleaned,but I wonder will these stains turn up again in five to ten years time.

Having said this I like most of the other proposals, especially replacing the pews with chairs. I was very impressed when I met our PR Lady Sara at the first meeting we had at Christ Church. So I feel with God’s help we will get all the funds that we will need for these projects.

There is one thing that worries me and that is no mention of renewable energy. A few years ago when I invested some of my money in a wind farm I found people were very negative towards the project. I would like to say now that the return is better than I’m getting on some of my building society accounts. Now I’m going to have solar panels (PV) to generate electricity put on my roof and still getting the same negative feedback like “I suppose you know what you are doing“.

The way I look at it, is that this great energy we get from the sun, wind, and also these fast flowing rivers is God given and free so we should harness it. I know Christ Church is a listed building but I heard of a church that is a lot older than ours in London and they have there solar panels put on a building very near to the church.

By the way, I will be getting paid for some of my electricity that will be fed into the grid so I feel it could be a good investment for Christ Church. As the price of electricity is not likely to go down over the years I feel as time goes by it’s becoming a better investment all the time.There are now a lot of churches in the UK that are enjoying the benefits of solar panels, so I hope
Christ Church will be joining them.

Very Best Wishes with all the projects and looking forward to seeing the improvements.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

An Interesting article about Pews

Many churches have been refurnished through the centuries, and parishes will rightly wish to consider whether their existing furnishings are suitable for their needs. But changes to seating will make a significant alteration to a church and will need careful thinking through to make sure that the best solution is reached. Read More at

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Governance and Responsibilities - Renewal & Development Committee

We have formed a number of different committees and groups over the past few years to manage the day to day running of the various fund raising, planning and development activities at Christ Church. These have made valuable contributions to the Development and Renewal process and have set the stage for where we are now.

It is important to have a clear committee structure so that everyone knows who is involved and what the decision making process is, so we have simplified our existing committees and groups and below, provide a list of the current members of the group.

The Development & Renewal Committee
Chair: Sara Tye
Members: Dave Godfrey
John Michaux
Teresa Michaux
Daniel Pitt
Gareth Hutchinson
Claire Beaton
Ian Walters
Mike Palmer
Ailsa Palmer
Peter Ford
Simon Stevenette
Stephen Grosvenor
Pamela Bridgeman
Lynda Fisher

A subcommittee of the P.C.C that exists to provide, both strategic and detailed, planning recommendations to the P.C.C. on aspects of church development and renewal. This covers:

  • Development target setting and measurement to enable us to measure the success of our plans.
  • Managing a strategic overall plan to deliver the renewal vision.
  • Liaising with specialist suppliers and consultants to get ideas and ultimately costs and plans for roof repairs, heating, lighting and sound systems, sustainable energy such as Solar panels.
  • Organising and managing fund raising appeals
  • Communicating progress both within the church community and in Swindon and beyond.A more detailed description of our full governance process and our other committees and groups is available in the introduction to our Annual Report which you can find on the website at: (or from the parish office)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Comments received about the Christ Church Renewal Proposals

We received a number of written comments via various means. We have summarised them in [this document]. We have also included comments received about the Christ Church development plan.

If you would like to comment further on any aspect of the renewal process then please contact us either by commenting on these pages or by email to the

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Caring for the planet - Renewal

Following the architect's draft proposals and our congregational review and consultation, we are seeking to get a firmer idea of what has been done elsewhere in churches across the country. We are particularly interested in understanding more about using God's resources more effectively.

Have a look at some of the links below for more information about what is being done

Saint Silas - Solar Panels Project

St Mary's Ealing

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Comment on the pews

I think that we should have a better idea of why we are moving the pews. They form an important part of the traditional church and whilst uncomfortable are integral to the Sunday experience. I like the idea of a entrance area at the back of the church - this will avoid the scrum we often get a the end of services. I don't think the toilet pod is a practical idea - it will be too big for the space we have.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Renewal 2010

For some time we have been thinking and praying about future plans to ensure that our Church Building remains at the heart of the community and is able to continue to be fit to serve our worship and the community in the coming years.
It is important that everyone understands and is able to input to the decision making process about any changes that may be made .We will soon be embarking on a further major consultation with our friends and congregation to decide how best to ensure that Christchurch remains at the centre of the community in Swindon for the next 160 years. Please pray for all those concerned with trying to put across a clear vision and keep an eye on the website for more details.

Read the architects Proposal                                           Read the architects Brief