How is the project going?
Well, we are building momentum. Yes, I know it is some years since the
Parish Plan was put together under the Vital Villages initiative, with
its aim of “building a sustainable community”. The provenance for the
planned extension stems from an objective identified in that Plan (I
Action - To look at ways to foster greater integration of the Church
and the community leading to improved facilities and utilisation of
How it will be tackled - To expand the church role in the community, for example utilisation of facilities - hold social and arts events
As with the Village Shop project, a key objective of the Parish Plan,
good things sometimes do take longer to come along than we might wish.
We now have a most exciting proposal for the extension to enhance
significantly the Church’s ability to accommodate community activities
and to carry out its ecumenical role.
Can you really call the provisional plans exciting?
The revised plans, on display in St Agatha’s, most certainly are. Please
go and have a look at them. The PCC was encouraged by the Oxford
Diocese and your responses to the questionnaires to consider a broader
canvas - hence we now have an extension proposal with larger
multi-purpose meeting room, a kitchen and two loos (one with facilities
for the disabled) The overall design from the outside is inspiring.
Will all this not increase the cost?
Few things in life are free and, yes, the cost will be greater than for
the initial proposal. We will clarify this shortly but the target is to
meet c75% of the total through external grants with the balance raised
locally. A sizeable part of this balance will come from existing Church
funds set aside for such a project; the remainder we will seek from the
Parish, challenging but achievable we believe with your support.
How about the responses to the questionnaires?
They are still coming in but so far they have been very encouraging with
many suggestions taken into account in the revised plans. Some raise
valid points which warrant a reply.
One says there should be more consultation and marketing of the
proposals. We hope the questionnaire gives people an opportunity to have
a say. The plans are on display in St Agatha’s and this display board
will be updated as the project progresses. We also will use the pages of
The Villager to report on developments. However I have some
sympathy with another response: “This was mooted 4 years ago. JUST GET
ON WITH IT!!”.
Another suggests that funds would be better spent on improving the
existing building rather than building an extension. This Appeal is not
intended to replace funding for other Church needs and, as part of this
exercise, a 3-7 year projection of repair and maintenance requirements
for St Agatha’s is being prepared to ensure this aspect is not
overlooked. It should be borne in mind that many of the bodies we will
be approaching for donations will support capital projects but not
How long is all this going to take?
A little while, indeed! Securing planning permission for the extension
will be far more complicated than for an ordinary building. The Oxford
Diocese has to approve the project, as does English Heritage due to St
Agatha’s Grade 11* listed status. Thereafter the plans are submitted to
SODC. All being well, we hope to have all approvals in place by the
third quarter this year. Realistically it may be towards the end of next
year before the extension is completed.
Will any fund raising events be held?
You had better believe it, once the Appeal is launched later this year.
We are nurturing a number of ideas but two very provisional dates for
your diaries are:
Saturday 6 June - An evening concert in St Agatha’s (yes we appreciate
we will not have planning permission by this date, this is a pre Appeal
Saturday 19 September - A sponsored walk for families, concluding with a bonfire and barbecue near St Agatha’s.
Why are you doing this at the same time as the Village Shop?
In an ideal world we would not launch this Appeal close to another
Village project or at a time of difficult economic circumstances, but
probably you can always find reasons to put such a project off. Any
further delay and Mr “JUST GET ON WITH IT!!” would be apoplectic!
Seriously, both the Village Shop and the Church extension are very
worthwhile projects which will benefit our community. We hope that both
will be supported wholeheartedly.
Chairman, St Agatha’s Church Extension Appeal Committee