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Building for the Future - Updates

Bromley Road Redevelopment Project

Website update  14 July 2019

Welcome to our periodic update on the progress of our church redevelopment project. 
Please do also take a look at the latest photos in On-Going Development.

Work on the new atrium space proceeds apace: the main roof structure is now in place and the plan is to lift in the large sloping glass panels by the end of this month.  The two gable roofs above the office and staircase/landing will be covered with tiles of Welsh slate.  A specialist firm will instal the flat ‘green roof’ planted with sedum above part of the atrium.  Then, when everything is definitely sealed and watertight, the fitting-out of the atrium space can begin.  The project’s target completion date remains 4 November.

One of the major features of our redevelopment is improved access and better facilities for the less mobile, a key element of which is the new lift to the first floor; this was installed in the last week.

Within the church sanctuary, the sub-floor is complete, allowing a start this week on the high-level electrical work and then the re-painting of the ceiling and walls.  We have chosen a combination of cream colours to both freshen up and lighten the interior, while maintaining accentuation with a dignified red of features in the stonework: in columns, corbels and mouldings.

Outside, at the front of the church, the foundations of the landscaped garden are being laid and the design of the steps down from the street pavement are being finalised.  This is not straightforward, due to the change in levels along the length of the steps’ opening, as you pass down Bromley Road.   It will be great to see the garden finished in November, too, giving the best chance for shrubs and bedding plants to establish themselves over the winter for a good show in the spring of 2020!

On the funding front, we are on target to meet the objectives of the seven-year cash flow we have established, with church members maintaining their high level of donations to the project.  Every summer our Gift Day coinciding with the church’s anniversary makes a special contribution, and this year’s gifts have well exceeded those of recent years.  Government Gift Aid increases the value of many such gifts, enabling us to make even faster progress toward our goal of full funding.

Of course, such a project requires a diverse mix of funding sources, commonly including some borrowing, so as to spread the cost over more years than the period of the construction work alone. Interest-free 4- and 5-year loans from members have now also hit their target of £75,000, and we are on the point of completing a planned loan application to Methodist Chapel Aid.

The Mission and Outreach Committee continue to develop the church’s mission objectives, and the activities which will fill, and work from, the new premises when they are complete.  We want to be an attractive and vibrant addition not simply to the built environment but also to the social fabric of Beckenham.  As our Superintendent Minister  approaches the end of her first full year with us, she is also full of enthusiasm for what we might achieve in due course.

If you are interested in our project, and would like to contribute in any way, please contact me on  mark.cheesman1@ntlworld.com


Bromley Road Redevelopment Project

Website update  4 April 2019

Our new atrium’s underground services, its foundation slab and the ‘tanking’ to the private right of way are now complete.  Meanwhile, in the sanctuary the Victorian floor joists have been reinforced, patches of woodworm treated, audiovisual and hearing loop cabling installed, and preparations are advanced for construction of the sub-floor containing the under-floor heating, which will then enable the high-level electrical work and painting of the ceiling to be carried out.

Over at the church on Monday, I saw the breeze-blocks delivered and being stacked ready to start building up the atrium walls, while on Wednesday the cladding stone arrived.  By Easter we should see the ground floor walls of our new atrium community café and social space.  The first site tour open to all church members took place on Wednesday 13 March and the second will follow very probably on 25 April.

Many people find it fascinating to watch buildings go up.  Maybe it is because they remind us of our childhood interest in the construction challenges of Lego, Bako and Meccano sets!  No doubt, too, we are impressed by the artistry and science involved in creating something both more beautiful and more useful than what was there before.  When it is all done, maybe we should frame a picture or two of the old dingy alley and storage huts, and hang them on the atrium wall as a memento.

Now, however, is the time to develop with resolution the work already done on the uses to which our new facilities will be put, to meet the mission objectives we defined at this time last year.  As we approach Easter, we are put in mind of an egg: the new floors, walls and in due course roof are like the protective shell, interesting of course in its own right, but it is the steady transformation inside and the eventual chick which are the real purpose of the whole exercise!

So we expect our new and refurbished premises to be both attractive and functional, but we are not building them to win an architectural prize.  Our focus must be, and is, on how our new face to the street will help invite people in, on how we shall use the atrium to support community projects and provide a meeting-place for people to come together, maybe over a coffee or lunch at our TCs café, and on the exciting possibilities opened up by the newly flexible sanctuary space.  We look forward to lively discussion of this at our annual church meeting on 12 May.

A few other notes:

-  our Fun, Food and Fellowship group have put together an impressive list of potential activities and events to be organised this year and next.  Please everyone get involved and let’s turn as many of these as possible into reality!  The first is the bric-a-brac sale on Saturday 27 April, for which we are calling for ‘all hands on deck’.

-  we have been very fortunate in raising a substantial sum in grants from regional or national trusts and foundations, but being still short of our overall budget we certainly can’t rest on our laurels.  We are working on some new applications, for instance to a funder of specialised work to refurbish pipe organs.  We shall also approach local business to ask for their support in a spirit of solidarity with the Beckenham town centre improvements and the local, social objectives of our project.

 -  if anyone reading this short article would like to know more about Beckenham Methodist Church’s redevelopment project, please e-mail Mark on mark.cheesman1@ntlworld.com.


Bromley Road Redevelopment Project

The Foundations - January 2019

My last update in October 2018 appeared just a few days before our contractors Ammcass Group started work on site, and since then the demolition and foundation-laying stage of our project got underway in earnest. We have just about got used to being excluded from half our premises, which now looks like a bomb site - the floor is up, the ceiling down, and dust is everywhere!

The whole project is scheduled to last 12 months, taking us to ‘practical completion’ in Nov 2019, so that we would have time to rectify any residual snags, re-assemble the church organ, give a fresh lick of paint to non-project areas and hang the Christmas decorations! We should probably already give thought to what sort of event we shall hold to mark the church’s re-opening: inviting members, our user groups, other friends and grant donors to join us in celebration.

But all that lies some way ahead. In the next quarter the atrium foundation will be laid and the steel and block superstructure built up, on both ground and first floors. By Easter we should see the roof-lines emerging, and in due course the existing wall to the back hall and landing will be demolished to make way for the new staircase (and disabled lift) leading to the office and upstairs rooms.

The early summer quarter will be taken up with the installation of floors, doors, windows and of course the atrium’s glass roof, as well as the first fixings of mechanical, electrical and plumbing services and carpentry. Our contractors have the benefit of the existing under-gallery area as their site office and welfare space, and because part of the job is renovation of the sanctuary, on a day when it pours with rain they can flexibly switch to undercover working! We are very glad that our many user groups have with just one or two exceptions loyally chosen to stay with us during the works. There have been some chilly and draughty days, but soon the worst of the winter will be behind us. We look forward so much to the new, improved facilities, and so no doubt do they! Our Fairtrade café TCs is also operating again, in the upstairs hall between 10.30 and 14.30, although not on Fridays nor when the U3A are in occupation there on one Thursday monthly.

Church Council recently reviewed the project’s cost and funding budgets, and a cash flow forecast, confirming full support for the on-going work.

The Redevelopment Committee reviews the position at each monthly meeting. Members continue to make generous gifts and donations, while by the end of January we shall have received most of the funds conditionally promised by grant-making bodies. Despite all this excellent news, we are still facing a shortfall in funds, so are very fortunate that the church stands to benefit this year from a substantial bequest, which will help to replenish the reserves.

We shall also embark in the spring on a second round of external fund-raising, now that people will actually be able to see the new building emerging from the ground, and what has been drawn and imagined takes physical shape. Meanwhile, Mary Jackson is in charge of fund-raising events and looks forward to hearing from any member with the enthusiasm and drive to help turn good ideas into reality. Ever onward and upward!

Please see the church website www.beckenhammethodistchurch.co.uk beneath the ‘Building for the Future’ tab, for recent photos of the project building site.

Any queries please send to me on mark.cheesman1@ntlworld.com