Consultation feedback

After the Plans Afoot event, we were told that

“People valuing people creates community: this is priceless… buildings and spaces are useful, but it is the community in them that is the real value.”

…and that is the real strength: the people here who will grow the activity in Alston Moor so that there is enough going on for us all to thrive.

 

General comments:

We received 115 items of feedback – most of which is supportive. Strong support from all sectors including non-church goers, for the aim to increase enjoyment and use of the church building and churchyard by a broader range of people and for this to benefit the Alston Moor community.

Respondents raised concerns about:

  • Competition with the Town Hall
  • Activities viewed as inappropriate ‘keep the church for worship’
  • Lack of opportunity to disagree with or influence the consultation
  • Long term viability of the church building because of lack of sustainable finance and declining congregation
  • Churchyard becoming over developed & losing its ‘natural feel’
  • Church architecture (internal and external) becoming spoilt by inappropriate modifications

Respondents gave significant support for:

  • Signage at the gate explicitly giving permission for people to visit the church and churchyard
  • Small scale parking and paths around the churchyard as long as there was minimal visual impact
  • Interpretation of the heritage of the building and grounds, including wildlife, clock and genealogy
  • Improved physical access into the church building
  • Repairs to the carillon & organ
  • Glazed doors (assisted opening) to retain heat inside the building
  • Discrete, accessible toilet facilities and servery kitchen (Option B preferred by 88%)
  • Creation of a large, hospitable community space in the centre of town that had very good physical access
  • Ability to configure nave & south aisle in flexible ways allowing diverse uses
  • Increase in number and variety of community activities, particularly musical and spoken word events
  • Hosting peripatetic & outreach services which benefit from a community approach to increasing participation
  • Local residents feeling more welcome in the church and churchyard at any time, not just for specific events
  • Better communication about the heritage and activities going on in the churchyard and grounds
  • Direct investment towards the local economy and supply chains

Suggestions for adjustments to current plans:

  • Commission an environmental improvement plan for the project to guide churchyard developments, biodiversity improvements and minimise negative impacts of any development (e.g. green sward to parking and path)
  • Review door glazing to enable retention of existing wooden doors alongside new glazed doors
  • Create two unisex WCs, one accessible with baby changing facilities
  • Use lockable, moveable counters in the servery to maximise flexibility
  • Replace existing pews in chancel with adapted moveable pews from the nave
  • Incorporate storage and display areas within the design
  • Increase the available plug sockets & improve hearing loop efficiency especially in the rear of the nave
  • Keep the font and the clock visible from the main entrance
  • Sustain engagement with the wider community through musical events and low-cost welcome improvements
  • Include digital and on-site interpretation and information during and after the project
  • Integrate training opportunities for local people and businesses within the programme of works
  • Embed local preference within procurement to invest project spend within Alston Moor where practicable

 

Here are some choice comments we have received:

“It is essentially a tranquil place, and I would be sorry to see that change too much. Encouraging people to enjoy the peace there would be good”

“Excellent fun, community gathering in the church. Good company, great food, music terrific.”

“Flowers, community notice board, something telling me ‘welcome, come in, I am open every day and this is what you will find’.”

“…it was a wonderful day, and so exciting to see our beloved church being the centre of such creativity and ambition!  I very much look forward to seeing this develop, and continuing to do all I can to support what undoubtedly has the potential to be a transformational project for our community.  It never ceases to amaze me how many dedicated people we have in our community, and to see lots of these projects brought together under one banner was a great way to illustrate just how dynamic Alston Moor is, and how much inspirational work is going on.”

“Bring more people into the church to meet each other, talk together as a community, help and support each other. Help to alleviate isolation and loneliness in rural areas. Create a social non-judgemental hub the town can form itself around.”

“It’s the biggest community space, where people can gather even if they can’t walk…but hospitality facilities need bringing into the 21st century.”

 Youth Club thermal imaging session

At the end of May 2018, after a few weeks of very warm weather (and on a day where the temperature outside reached over 20 degrees!) the youth club borrowed the thermal imaging camera from Alston Moor Greenprint project. These showed the church had an internal temperature of around 12 degrees.

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