October update on the future of St Mary’s Church Centre

A photo of St Mary's Church Centre, West Malling

Conscious that church congregation members and local residents are asking about recent progress, this is an interim update on recent events in regard to our hopes and plans for St Mary’s church building and the church centre.

On September 22nd, representatives from the Diocesan Advisory Council (DAC) came to West Malling to look at the church and to discuss our options for the future of the church and a hoped-for extension to provide toilet facilities and other vital amenities. A representative from English Heritage and the Tree Officer from Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council were also in attendance.

Prior to that meeting, St Mary’s PCC had engaged an Architect to provide a Feasibility Study. As a result and by the time of the meeting with the DAC, the Architect had produced three sets of drawings that provided options for such amenities either within or as an extension to the existing church building. The drawings were discussed by PCC at their September meeting and ahead of the DAC’s site visit.

The meeting on September 22 was conducted in a good spirit. DAC representatives were not able to tell us what they thought ‘officially’. We now need to wait for them to meet as a full Council (their next meeting is in October) and for their representatives who came along to report back to the Council and discuss the project with the Council. We anticipate that English Heritage will also feed in their views to the DAC before that meeting. The DAC will then write to St Mary’s PCC to let us know their thoughts. They said to bear with them as they are very busy, so correspondence may not be very swift. We aren’t expecting any letter before November at the earliest.

In the meantime, Isobel Macdonald has been asked to convene a meeting of the PCC’s  ‘Sub-Group’ to talk about the next stage, so that we are ready when we receive the DAC’s response. This Sub-Group includes local residents as well as members of the PCC and contacts in our local community with relevant skills and expertise. Given the meeting with the DAC, one of the things that was clear was that the list of requirements for the church’s new facilities or extension needs to be considered in more depth and detail. That meeting is due to take place on Monday 20 October. The next PCC meeting takes place the following evening on Tuesday 21 October at which time the minutes of their previous meeting will be agreed and thus available to the public.

Rev David Green
5 October 2014

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