In November 2007, the Quinquennial Inspecting Architect noted that "the floors in the nave continue to deteriorate and that replacement would be necessary before long" and that "the lead work to the Lady Chapel roof has been patched on a number of occasions, and is coming towards the end of its useful life ..... complete re-leading is likely to be required in the foreseeable future." A further inspection identified that re-leading was also needed to St John's Chapel. Coupled with these two major issues of flooring and roofing, the ageing heating system and lighting systems have become unreliable and expensive to maintain and expensive to run. In response to these problems, the PCC launched a campaign in October 2008, the Vision for St Laurence's, that would engage the public in the conservation of St Laurence's Church and facilitate the new building services required in a community building in the 21st century.
Consultation & Communication
Given the magnitude of the project and its potential impact on the Ludlow community, the first phase included extensive consultation and engagement. This involved seeking the views of a representative "expert" panel of stakeholders (adopting a Delphi methodology), members of the Church electoral roll and the wider populace of Ludlow (based on a maildrop to 4,500 households). Suggestions were received from more than 700 individuals. Consensus was achieved across the three groups: Delphi (representative panel), Ludlow residents and Church electoral roll, regarding the most important changes that they would wish to see in St Laurence's, giving rise to the objectives for the project as stated below.
We have also produced and distributed nearly 20 000 newsletters throughout the project to keep the local and regional community informed of our progress, as well as embracing social media, such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
In mid-2012 the feasibility study on the re-ordering of St Laurence's, commissioned by the Vision Project Executive, was published. The purpose of this study was to take all the aspirations of the church and local community which have been developed in the extensive consultation since 2008, and explore ways in which they could be met. At the same time Andrew Arrol, project architect, completed a detailed condition survey of the fabric of St Laurence's to inform the necessary repair programme.
Two options were developed, the first with all facilities essentially delivered inside the building, the second including a major extension to the north, housing extra facilities. It must be noted that the two options presented were designed to explore possibilities; they were not proposals. To enable a logical and practicable solution it was important that all options, no matter how radical, were considered.
The study was presented to the Diocesan Advisory Council, English Heritage and Shropshire Council; it met with a good response and was commended for its holistic planning. An encouraging letter from English Heritage led to further encouraging letters from the DAC and Shropshire Council Conservation Officers. Some reservations were expressed about the amount of intervention in option A and about the size of the proposed extension in option B. At the same time a public consultation was carried out by means of a public meeting and exhibition.
Representations were made to the Vision Exec by the Civic Society that we should consider a third option ("option C"), purchasing property that is adjacent to St Laurence's, namely the Rectory, Reader's House or even accommodation above shops in King Street. However, a response was made emphasising that the first priority for the Vision Project was to conserve and enhance the fabric of St Laurence's Purchasing any of these properties would not enable that and therefore it was inappropriate to consider such a proposal at this stage. Not only this, but the cost of purchasing such properties, likely to be in the high six figure region, and the repairs/alterations necessary to make them usable was prohibitive. In short there was no likelihood of us being able to raise such funds on top of the repairs needed to the main building.
i. Caring for the church community and its heritage; continuing to nurture growth and improvement
ii. Sharing our story and the church building
iii. Creating a welcoming and accessible space, using sustainable energy, enabling greater engagement
iv. Celebrating our faith, church, history and heritage
v. Contributing to the local and wider community
The Current Scope
The Vision Project aims to enhance the provision of facilities afforded by St Laurence's Church in its three inter-related roles relating to faith, the wider community and the arts. As a place of worship, the church is central to the mission of the Parish. For the wider community it is not only a place for community activities, but also for learning, being a major educational resource for large numbers of children from across the West Midlands. It also plays a major role as an arts venue, particularly for musical activities. The project aims to enable better use of the current church plant.
Having completed the first round of consultation (the process of consultation will be on-going for the duration of the project), ‘behind-the-scenes' work over the past year has focussed on the preparation of documents necessary in relation to funding applications and securing the necessary approvals. These include Statements of Significance and Need, Condition Surveys on all the properties owned by the Parish, a Conservation Statement for St Laurence's and a Mission Action Plan for the Parish, as well as a Feasibility Study and Options Appraisal. In addition, specialist reports have been produced on the stained glass, monuments, paintings, textiles etc.
Following rigorous selection processes, Arrol and Snell of Shrewsbury have been appointed as both project architects and retained conservation architect.
What we have acheived so far?
Between 2007 and Spring 2016 we have completed approximately £900k of urgent works to the fabric and fittings of the buidling, which have enabled improved further community use and secured delicate treausres. This work includes:
Target 1 Urgent minor works £80k - Completed spring 2013
Repairs to monuments, stained glass, monuments, painting and installation of roped access system
Target 2 High priority roof and external stone masonry repairs £335k - Completed spring 2014
Replacement of lead roofs to St John and Lady Chapel, repair of pinnacles chancel and nave, repair of hood mouldings north aisle
As well as other interim works including an interim boiler plant and lighting.
Over the next few years we will be tackling Target 3 which includes:
1. Further works of urgent conservation
2. Major work to re-order the interior
We plan to achieve this in two phases:
Phase 1 Includes removal of pews and pew platforms, replacement seating, new sound system, improvements to the nave dais. Cost approximately £200k.
Phase 2 Major conservation works and improved facilities £5 million (indicative costs)
Conservation of stained glass, monuments, misericords, organ, chancel roof and textiles, as well as renewal of the nave flooring and implementation of an extensive learning and participation plan.
For further information please contact
Shaun Ward Project Director
The Parish Office
No.2 College Street
or by email: