The Covid Pandemic initially brought progress on the Development Project (described below) to a halt, as construction firms were unable to work, and normal fundraising activities couldn’t take place. When it became apparent that the crisis was going to last for more than a few weeks, we looked carefully at the parts of the project we felt we could still achieve, and prioritised them in the light of our new needs.
While the need for more toilet facilities was now less urgent, the most immediate requirement was a one-way system of entry and exit for both church and community room. For the church that was easy, with entry through the porch and exit via the vestry. The community room offered only one solution, with exit through the emergency door at the rear, but no proper path had ever been laid to serve that purpose. The provision of such a path was one of the last stages of the original project, but now it was the highest priority. Fortunately Cardiff County Council were willing to provide a generous grant to fund this part of the project, and the Construction Firm Orange Llama completed the work to a very high standard as soon as they were allowed to return to work.
One of our programmes to counter loneliness and isolation is our “Gardening as Therapy” project (originally kindly sponsored by Age Cymru). Many people have taken part in this, including a wild area contributing to the Kew Gardens Grow Wild Project. This has all been immensely valuable during the pandemic when people’s mental well-being has been so sorely tested.
It was highly beneficial that we were able to include some raised beds in the work funded by the Council, making the gardening work more accessible. This also allowed us to recycle the soil from the construction of the path, as there are invasive bluebells in the grounds and soil should not be removed from the site. Photos.
With the path completed, together with suitable lighting for people leaving after dark, the Community Room is now able to be used by small groups, keeping both doors open for a through draught. The arrangements were good enough for voting to take place there in May 2021.
From the beginning of the pandemic, we ensured that people stayed in touch by making regular phone calls, and we worked very hard early on to encourage our more vulnerable people to learn to use Zoom. Many of our Forget Me Not friends in particular have become adept at this novel form of communication, and although they would all like to get back to face-to-face meetings, they value their weekly Zoom sessions very highly.
When we were allowed to resume church services it was important to keep numbers down to allow for social distancing, and we didn’t want to encourage attendance by people who had been shielding. To facilitate this, we hosted Zoom sessions in which people could “sit in” on the service, and socialise afterwards. Many people have taken the view that this is a very satisfactory use of the technology, in some ways preferable to dedicated “Zoom Services”.
Initially the sessions in church were enabled using our mobile phones. The installation of wifi in the church and Community Room was always an aim of the Development Project, but in view of the success of this approach, we have now installed superfast fibre broadband, providing good coverage in the church and community room. We are particularly keen to ensure on into the future that we continue providing Zoom coverage of everything that takes place in the church, as this has allowed many people to join us who would otherwise be unable to take part.
St Edward’s Church has been a thriving centre of worship for over 100 years, and throughout that time the building and facilities have been continuously developed, transformed and re-invented to take account of changing needs of the surrounding community. Since the establishment of St Edward's Music and Arts Centre in 2009, there has been a rapid increase in the use of both the church and the community room buildings for meetings, rehearsals, exhibitions and concerts, as well as daily Church Services and Community Projects such as the "Forget-Me-Not" Cafe for people living with dementia and their carers.
As the community use of the site has been developed it has become clear that this is no longer “the Church” providing facilities for the wider community. Rather it is a large community (over 300) of people who share aims and responsibilities, and care about each other. It is a community drawn from all walks of life, and from quite a large area. Many feel that what happens at St Edward’s is worth travelling some distance to take part in, and worth the contribution of significant effort.
As more and more people use the church buildings, it is becoming clear that some of the facilities are inadequate, and the time has come to make some bold decisions about future developments on the site.
We are planning to redevelop the porch, WC and community room area of the church site to better accommodate the growing needs of the congregation and community. It is envisaged that this would include
The entrance path to the porch is breaking up and difficult to negotiate for people with mobility issues. The door from the porch into the nave is too small, and not well designed for wheelchair users, those with mobility issues and the visually impaired.
The entrance to the community room from the porch is cramped. Also when the second community room door is open it impedes access to the WC. Although the WC room is a large space, the toilet and sink are not accessible for all. Neither are there any handrails or baby-changing facilities. This is also the only downstairs WC facility, which is totally inadequate for the number of people currently using the building.
A small walk-in cupboard houses the Community Room central heating boiler and serves as the washing up area. A table in the corner of the Community Room provides the tea-making facility, and storage area for cups and equipment for the community organisations. The room itself is well used, but often rather crowded.
After exhaustive discussion by St Edward's Committee, a Project Schedule was drawn up, and this has largely been adhered to. The congregations, and all the organisations that meet in the buildings, were invited to contribute, both verbally and by submitting letters in support of the overall project and suggesting areas where improvements are needed, and an Options Appraisal Document was produced. Over £25,000 was contributed by benefactors to finance the initial phase of the work, and National Churches Trust provided £1500 towards the architect's fees.
Amanda Needham of Volute Architects was appointed as architect and produced a Feasibility Study for the project.
The Architect appointed the professional team and surveyors, who conducted appropriate investigations and produced surveys for submission to the DAC and Local Planning Authority (LPA). The Architect then drew up the final plans for the project. The submissions to the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) were made in October 2018, and the project was approved. The proposals were then submitted to the Local Planning Authority for planning and conservation area consent, which was approved in April 2019.
Diocesan Advisory Committee Grant of Faculty: Download
Local Planning Authority Permission for Development: Download
The following documents have been produced to explain the motivation for the project, and to show the work that has been done:
Volume 1: Options Appraisal (pdf)
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Volume 2: Surveys and Reports (pdf)
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Volume 3: Drawings (pdf) | Download | Open in viewer |
Design & Access Statement (pdf) | Download | Open in viewer |