St Mary’s Plans to Redevelop its Church Campus to Prioritise Affordable Housing, Childcare and Community Spaces

St Mary’s Church and the Parish of Walthamstow are excited to announce a bold vision for a new and restored church campus in Walthamstow Village which will better serve E17.

Our vision is to address specific needs in Walthamstow while also ensuring the long-term viability of our congregation, buildings and community work. This will include restoring the ancient parish church of St Mary’s, transforming our Church Hall (the ‘Welcome Centre’) and demolishing the two houses next to the Welcome Centre, which the church owns.

We have applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant; if successful, our aim will be to use these funds to repair, restore and develop our 900 year-old church building, creating a more welcoming, accessible and flexible space which will better serve the church and the wider community throughout the week and in a greater variety of ways.

At this stage, our intention is to construct permanently affordable housing on the site of the Welcome Centre, which will be sensitively built to compliment the leafy conservation area. Two 1980s-era houses next to the Welcome Centre will be demolished to make way for a modern childcare centre offering childcare from early morning to early evening with added meeting rooms for the church and wider community, and dedicated youth rooms.

For the past several years, leaders at St Mary’s have been considering a number of key challenges facing the Church which have kept us from playing a more vibrant and integral role in E17 and beyond. It’s become increasingly clear that our buildings in their current state inhibit our ability to welcome and connect with the wider Walthamstow community.

In announcing these plans early, we feel we can better work with our partners, with existing users of the Welcome Centre and with the wider community to move forward in an open and respectful way as we conduct extensive research, planning and consultation.

Rev Vanessa Conant, Rector of the Parish of Walthamstow, said,

“This is a very exciting time for St Mary’s and the Parish. I’m proud of our Leadership Team for showing vision and courage with this ambitious plan, which focuses on what’s best for our entire community. We envision the St Mary’s campus once again becoming the heart of Walthamstow Village and a place where interesting and transformative things happen. We want to create community spaces which are beautiful, clean, modern, sustainable and accessible to all. We need to use our resources to serve the common good.”

“Our plan will also allow us to address specific issues which we feel particularly passionate about, such as affordable housing in London. But we won’t just advocate for it: we’ll build it. We want to be able to do more than critique systems; we want to help change them.”

St Mary’s and the Parish anticipate that no works on the church or the wider campus buildings will begin until 2018 at the very earliest. In the meantime, the Church and Parish will set up a dedicated website in early 2017 to answer questions about the renovation and building plans, and to provide the public with the latest information on the project. Two surgeries, open to the public, will also be held to answer questions about the project on the 27th of July 2016 and on the 2nd of August 2016; both will be held at 7.30 pm at St Mary’s.

Contact

Rev Vanessa Conant, Rector, at
• facebook.com/StMarysE17
• twitter.com/StMarysE17
• walthamstowchurch.org.uk/St-Marys

Additional Background

• Factors which have led St Mary’s to launch this new vision include:
o The poor state of repair of the Welcome Centre and of St Mary’s Church (as determined by a major report conducted by specialist architects in 2015)
o The long-term financial sustainability of St Mary’s Church and the Parish
o The lack of permanently affordable housing in Walthamstow, which is a Waltham Forest Council priority
o The need for greater provision of wraparound childcare (from early morning to early evening), which is a Waltham Forest Council priority
o The need for community space, which is a Waltham Forest Council priority (our plan, which includes the renovation of the church for increased use, will increase the overall amount of flexible meeting space we are currently able to provide)

• We will learn whether our Heritage Lottery Fund application was successful in the autumn of 2016. Even if we are not successful, we will re-apply in late 2016 with the potential of winning funding by early 2017.

• St Mary’s Walthamstow is home to a diverse Christian community of over 300 people. It is the ancient parish church of Walthamstow, with Grade II* historical status and foundations of more than 900 years old, located at the top of Walthamstow Village.

• With our three sister churches, which, along with St Mary’s, make up the Parish of Walthamstow (Anglican), we offer Sunday worship and midweek activities, including:
o parenting, marriage and Alpha courses
o helping people out of debt through our Christians Against Poverty centre
o advocating for affordable housing through our partnership with Citizens UK
o supporting the Forest Churches Night Shelter
o reaching out to the High Street through our sister church, St Luke’s, which operates as a market stall

• St Mary’s does not receive taxpayer funding, nor do other Church of England churches, but is primarily supported by gifts and donations from its 300-member community.

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