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23 May 2016

Enhancing our exterior

Steve Williams Steve Williams Refresh Project Leader
Refresh building front 3

Steve Williams, who is now leading the Refresh team, explains what is involved in phase two of this exciting project to update our church building.

When people first visit ABC, they are always amazed when they enter the lounge, especially now it is so impressive after the first phase of Refresh. The auditorium has been likened to entering the Tardis. Such comments imply that the entrance and stairwell are pokey and uninviting. I frequently welcome at ground level and see first-time visitors often quite unsure if this little dingy and dated entrance is really the way in to the church building.

Refresh building front 2

As someone who has been a member here for so long (yes, I even remember the old building), I tend to just arrive at 69 Above Bar Street and walk in without taking much notice of the entrance itself. I expect many of us do. When asked to lead Refresh 2, I started taking a greater interest in the entrance area and stairwell itself. I have to admit it is all rather shabby and does not really reflect God’s glory. I am not saying we should have a pretentious entrance, but it ought to be clean, well decorated, and welcoming. At present …

  • the canopy is rusting away
  • the sign has had to be removed before it fell down
  • the main doors don’t open and shut properly
  • the display units are dirty and dated
  • the paintwork looks tired
  • the lift may work, or it may not; it may take you to the floor you want, or it may not

We also have to have all the lights on, even on the brightest day, and a significant number of widows throughout the building are failing, with the hinges breaking and condensation between the glass units.

Refresh building front 1

A bright and welcoming entrance

Enough of the problems. Refresh 2 has been launched to sort these issues out, so that visitors, members, and regular attendees enter a place of worship via a bright and welcoming entrance. That, along with raising our profile on the street, is the target.

The Refresh 2 team has been busy since it first met at the beginning of the year:

  • the scope has been defined (i.e. the entrance itself, the stairwell, the lift, the windows on Above Bar Street and Ogle Road)
  • drawings of various alternative designs have been produced and the cost estimated
  • surveyors and other professionals have been appointed
  • a detailed assessment of the lift has been commissioned
  • discussions have been held with the landlords, since we need their permission to alter the structure
  • the planning department of Southampton City Council has been approached, so that any concerns they may have are dealt with prior to formal planning permission being applied for

Work on the ground, as it were, will not start until well into 2017 as we have to obtain the necessary permissions and licences, finalise the design, raise the finance, produce the tender documents, and appoint a contractor. Unfortunately, this all takes time. Also, we do not really want to be removing windows in the depth of winter.

There is a lot to do, but it is really exciting, and I am confident that the final result will make us all feel it was well worth the effort.

Please pray for the team: Chris Chanter, Hannah Chanter, Derek Chaplin, Fiona Hudd, Kevin Kirk, John Leaver, David Leighton, Ben Taylor, and Ben Thomas.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or any of the team.

Watch the video introducing Refresh Phase Two:

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