Building Project update
Now that we are back in our new building it is good to reflect on the journey we travelled from April 2013 to February 2014. Below you will find reports from the beginning of the planning process to the re-opening of the new building. The News Blog also includes lots of information about the journey of the Building Project and photographs of all phases from the start.
It was a wonderful way to start using our new building, with a morning of prayer on Saturday 25th January and our first services on Sunday 26th. There was a real feeling of thanksgiving to God for what He has enabled.
The following Saturday, 1st February, we had an official opening and opportunity for members and visitors to look round the new and refurbished parts of the building. Our Celebration Services on Sunday 2nd were led by Andy Paterson, Mission Director of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC) to which we are affiliated. You can hear an abridged recording of the weekend celebrations here (55 minutes) or hear the two sermons preached on Sunday by Andy on Sermon Player.
The special Celebration Weekend was followed by an Open Week when neighbours and other visitors were invited to come in to see the building and what was happening in it. It was also the first full week of the regular events and meetings, which now continue as usual back in our building.
The week closed with a celebratory party for the church family, when we were able to seat 160+ comfortably for a very tasty meal and then enjoy an evening of entertainment from our talented, funny and musical members.
For more photos of the Celebration Weekend go to our News Blog
You can also see an article about our building project in the Conservation and Heritage Journal (pdf)
We met with the architect and builder this afternoon - and have Practical Completion. This means we have the building back, it is ready for use and we are on course for our first services in church this Sunday.
Since last week the builder has been working hard to finish outstanding work. Last Saturday a huge work party returned most of the contents to the church in order to be ready for the forthcoming weekend. There are, however, several features which will take many more weeks to be delivered and completely finished. Louvres for the rear windows and front door are expected in early February - scaffolding will remain in place on the rear wall until this is complete. The rendering and churchyard must wait until the weather is dryer and warmer.
Elsewhere we await loudspeakers for the rear hall, and spot lights and the full screen in the main chapel. These should all arrive in February. The cooker has been a huge challenge in the past week or so. We expect this, plus the extraction fan, to be installed next Thursday. Finally, Graeme, the site manager, has a list of snagging tasks that he will supervise over the next couple of weeks – but none of this will get in the way of our becoming operational.
So, the final stages to be involved with and pray for over the next week include:
- A work party this evening to prepare the building for the day of prayer.
- A further work party on Saturday afternoon to clear the ground floor and ensure we are ready for worship on Sunday.
- Our first service on Sunday - a Family Service. The lift and rear rooms upstairs will not be accessible. The crèche will be in the new crèche room. Pre-school children will meet in the adjacent corner room.
- Moving in. During the week 27-31 January we will be preparing the offices and storerooms and organising activity materials.
- Being ready to 'go live' on 31 January – ready for the Celebration Weekend and Open Week!
Be ready - we are about to land!
It’s almost complete – and it’s amazing!
We have had several meetings and many exchanges this week with both the architect and the builder - and have agreement to move the contents back today, 18th January.
During the week the audio-visual system was installed and is fully operational in the main chapel. The organ arrived on Wednesday - it has been serviced and is ready for our first services! We were really grateful yesterday to see the front windows and the many outstanding window panes fitted. And the kitchen has moved like lightning over just few days from an empty shell to being almost ready for us to use.
We will move the contents in today and over a few days next week. Graeme will be working intensely through his completion and snagging lists over the next two weeks. We formally deferred 'Practical Completion' to next week as there are a couple of issues that must be finished before we can accept the building and move around it freely.
We will have a second, but smaller work party next Saturday afternoon to get us ready for the Sunday and, assuming all this continues to plan, will focus on preparations for mid-week activities in the last week of January.
Do continue to pray for the outstanding work and all involved, pray for the move tomorrow, and pray for the services planned for 26 January and 2 February. There is still a huge amount to work on to get us operational – and so much to give praise for.
Fasten Your Seatbelts and Prepare for Landing
Meetings have taken place with the architect and the builder to review the current position with the building and outstanding work prior to completion. There is much to do throughout - mostly finishing and tidying – but the builder is confident that 'practical completion' will occur on Friday 17 January.
The only contract tasks expected post-completion are the fitting of the louvres, which should be in place by the end of January, and further tidying up of the churchyard, which will need to wait for the ground to recover from the heavy rain. It is just possible the builder will be finishing a few things that are still outstanding on 17 January - such as the kitchen and the tall windows on the south wall - but these will not limit us moving back on 18th January. They will be all be completed the following week.
Headlines from the schedule for the next 3 weeks include:
- 18 January. Return to Building Work Party. We will need as much effort as possible to move the contents back to the building and deep clean where needed. It may take most of the day. Please register availability with Syd and Jane Goldsmith.
- 19 January. Last service at Lord Williams’s School.
- 22 January at 19.30. Important briefing to all Ministry/Activity Leaders/Trustees. The aim of this meeting is to explain how the new building works and to discuss arrangements for managing and storing resources in the building.
- 26 January. First services in the new building.
- 1-2 February. Celebration Weekend.
- 3-8 February. Open Week.
Do pray for the outstanding work and for all the builder’s and contractor’s workers that they will finish safely to plan. Do pray for the move back, for the preparations for services and the audio visual systems. Do especially pray for the ministry work and opportunities that the new building will enable from February.
It's 262 days since we handed our church over to the builders and we had hoped to be back in the new building by this weekend! As you will be aware, the windows arrived much later than planned and have taken much longer to install than was expected. But the end is in sight! We reviewed the building this morning and it looks amazing. The windows are almost finished and much of the follow-on plastering and painting is complete. The carpets are down and the balcony seating is going into place.
New Concourse and stairs
Installing the kitchen is the biggest outstanding task. The units are delivered and waiting to be installed. There are inevitably countless tidying up tasks outstanding following the window installations and the building will need a deep clean before we can move in.
Bench seats being installed on the new balcony
We are aiming now to complete on 17 January with first services on 26 January. Please pencil in Saturday the 18th for a return-to-building work party and, if you play a role leading S-Club and mid-week activities, earmark the 22 January for a teach-in on how the building works and how we plan to use it. More details will be circulated in the New Year.
We praise God for the progress and achievements to date and we are so grateful to Graeme the site manager and all his teams/sub-contractors for all their efforts reaching this stage.
Prepare for Landing
Work is continuing at a very fast pace both inside the building and in the churchyard. The builder expects to hand over the building in the week commencing 16th December - probably on 19th or 20th.
The windows have become the critical path. The windows and doors started to arrive on 20th November. Installation is progressing well and should be complete by the end of next week. The upstairs rooms are complete and look excellent. Downstairs work continues, painting the walls and fitting the lights. In the churchyard the soakaways are complete and the preparations are well advanced laying the paths and the entrance patio.
The audio visual systems will be installed from the 9th December and the organ will return on 18th. The final task will be to lay the ground floor and carpets. It is expected that the handover on 19th or 20th December will cover everything except the kitchen and the rear building louvres - it is expected that these will be completed by mid January.
We now need to share plans for returning to the new building. Provided everything is complete by 20th, the schedule will be:
21st December - work party to return chairs and worship platforms
22nd and 25th December - services in the new building including a carol service on the Sunday evening
4th January - work party to return the rest of the church contents stored around the village and in homes
7th January - briefings for Ministry Leaders on the new building works and how it will operate from mid January
6 - 17th January - install shelves and noticeboards and get organised
20th - building fully operational and ready to support all activities
1 - 8th February - Thanksgiving and Open Week
Clearly we are hugely dependent on completing the windows without complications and on continuing good weather. If completion before Christmas is just not practicable we will continue to worship at Lord William's School and will return in mid January with an accelerated mobilisation schedule to enable us to be fully operational by 1st/2nd February.
So much to praise God for - and so much to pray for!
Information letter no. 14 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
The day when we move back to the new building is moving towards us at a great pace. It is now just 30 days to the target completion.
Before the contract review meeting last Tuesday (29 October) we toured the new building to take stock on progress and appreciate how everything is coming together. The upstairs rear rooms are all plastered and are really impressive. Plastering is advancing downstairs with the floor being laid next week. The main chapel is ready to be plastered and the balcony balustrades are about to be installed. Viewed from the entrance to the balcony, from what used to be the organ loft, one can appreciate how all will look when complete – larger, lighter and much more flexible. When we visited the site was buzzing with around 25 contractors working steadily across all aspects of the building. This will continue throughout November. Latest pictures will be on the Newsblog shortly.
At the subsequent contract meeting the builder shared plans taking us to completion. There have continued to be problems scheduling manufacture of the windows – particularly the large complex windows that will be installed in the rear hall. We expect the windows to be installed from 18 November. This will delay completion until mid-December. The builder forecasts most of the work including the churchyard will be finished by 12 December (42 days from now) with outstanding work on the kitchen possibly extending into the following week.
Provided the windows arrive on plan, and we are not impacted by severe winter weather, there is high confidence we will return for Christmas and have our first services in the new building on 22 December. We have been developing a return-to-building schedule over the past month. We will discuss and refine details with Trustees on 12 November.
Please do continue to pray for all the works and the suppliers – especially for the windows.
Information letter no. 13 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Information letter no. 12 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
The latest view from the balcony shows good progress in creating the newbenches
It is just 55 days to the target completion date.
September has been very busy on site with strong steady progress both inside and outside. The extensive roof is essentially complete so also are all the internal as well as external walls. The main chapel is well advanced with a completely new floor and heating system. The so-called 'first fix' carpentry, electrics and plumbing are mostly complete with plastering started in the rear hall and on the first floor. The windows are behind plan – there have been a couple of problems in manufacture – but these should arrive mid-October and are not impacting on the internal work. The final two months will see intense activity to complete all the internal and external work on plan. The builder is determined to complete by end November.
September has also been very busy within the church with teams preparing to return to the building. Meetings in early September reviewed the audio visual (AV) arrangements following which we have appointed an AV specialist to install the AV as soon as we take possession of the building. In the past two weeks we have drawn a schedule for maintaining and cleaning the new building, have planned in detail the issues we need to address from now to all activities being fully operational in January, and have developed a first order logistics plan for moving everything back in December ready for Christmas.
The next 2-3 months will be demanding - and very exciting!
Information letter no. 11 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Information letter no. 10 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
It is now just 92 days to the target completion. August has been another busy month with strong steady progress. The superstructure is nearly complete. The brickwork is complete, except for the kitchen, and much of the roof is complete. The first floor is in place and the main chapel floor has been replaced. The inside is becoming very exciting as the rooms take shape and the first-fit electrical and plumbing is installed. Over the next week or so the main roof will be completed, windows will be installed and plastering will begin in earnest.
September and October will be demanding as many specialists arrive to fit electrical and plumbing fittings, to construct the balcony seating and to fit windows and doors. Do pray for all those working on the building and for the access arrangements.
Information letter no. 9 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
Information letter no. 8 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
126 days to Target Completion Date
Building works have progressed steadily through July despite the intense heat. The walls at the rear are reaching up to and beyond the first floor level and the roof is beginning to take shape. The first floor is being assembled and, as soon as the roof is watertight, the first fit-electrical and plumbing will be installed. Do track progress photographically at the News-Blog on the church website.
While the builders work through their schedule we need now to plan for the return to the new building following acceptance on or around 29 November. Clearly we cannot be certain until nearer the day, but we are confident the builder will do everything possible to achieve this date or sooner - and we are on track to complete on plan at this stage. Key dates for diaries and prayer:
- 10 September Use of Building Meeting - to agree overarching policy and operating arrangements for the new building
- 24 September Maintenance Methods Workshop – to define arrangements for managing and maintaining the building after transfer
- 1 October Return Planning Workshop - to plan and prioritise arrangements for moving back to the church
- 23 November Briefing for Ministry Team Leaders and Trustees - to inform risk assessments for all activities in the new building
- 7 December Return-to-Building Work Party – to return everything we removed on 1 April. An exciting day – open to all.
Planning assumptions have our last service in LWS on 1 December, the first services in the new building on 8 December, and Thanksgiving events and services on 11-12 January 2014 – all subject to confirmation or refinement mid-autumn.
Information letter no. 7 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
Building work continues strongly and steadily on plan, with 147 days to the target completion at the end of November.
Over the past month:
- Final elements of demolition and all the foundations have been completed.
- Steel frames for the rear building and for the internal balcony have been erected.
- Brick and block walls for the rear building now reach up to the first floor level.
- A large hole has been created in the north wall of the chapel for the 3 doors linking the chapel with the new entrance area.
Reviewing progress at the contract meeting on Monday, standing in the chapel, we were able to see the huge transformation taking shape. The building is so much brighter, benefitting from the windows on the south wall, and being able to see through into the entrance area and beyond to the rear hall is creating a real sense of space and integration.
During the next month work will focus on:
- Building the superstructure and walls to roof height.
- Constructing and tiling the roof (tiling will actually take ~6 weeks).
- First floor carpentry and the balcony.
The first stages of electrical and plumbing fitting out are expected to begin in August. In September we will begin preparations for the new building - pulling together the return plan, preparing formal maintenance schedules, re-defining new car parking and access arrangements for mid-week activities, and planning for installation of audio/visual systems and storage facilities.
Information letter no. 6 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
Work Continues according to plan.
The rear building is beginning to take shape with bricklayers constructing the ground floor walls. Currently work is focussing on:
- Brick and block-work
- Steel for the internal balcony
- First floor carpentry
- Groundwork - drainage and services
Information letter no. 5 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
We look back across a really excellent month of strong progress in many areas of the building works and with the emergence in the past week of the full steel structure attached to the rear of the building.
Highlights from the month include:
- All new foundations concreted and complete
- Underpinning for existing foundations complete
- Core steel works erected
- Old balcony fully removed
- Electric wiring for lights in the chapel in ceiling installed
- Bricks for the next phase of works delivered
Looking ahead to the next month it is expected:
- The substructure (below ground) and the superstructure will be built
- Initial carpentry work will start on the first floor and the roof
- The new balcony will be erected
- Work will complete on drains and service trenches
In the wider project:
- The audio visual team has defined systems required on return to the new building
- The aesthetics team has been identifying colours for fittings and furnishings
- A Public Notice identifying locations for soakaways and services has been issued
- Graves disturbed during excavations of foundations in April will be re-interred.
May has been busy and we expect the momentum to continue to plan throughout June. Please continue to pray for all involved in the construction works, for all providing engineering and technical support, and for minimum impact on near neighbours in the village and on visitors to the village.
Information letter no.4 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
The building works have continued to progress well and to plan. The external extension foundations have been dug and concreted. Steelwork is being inserted in the floor slab ready to receive the steel structure for the rear extension.
Over the past week and next week:
- The last of the excavated material is being removed from the site.
- Some of the floor slab will be concreted.
- The steelwork will be erected at the rear.
Steel erection is a big task. Specialist lifting equipment will arrive on Tuesday 28 May. This may cause some disruption for a short period. Steel erection will take 3-4 days and dominate the works during next week. Lorry movements will continue at 2-3 movements per day.
In parallel we are refining requirements and options for the audio-visual system we will install when the building is handed back to us in November, and we are in dialogue with several grant awarding agencies.
- The building works and for the erection of steel structure for the rear of the building next week.
- The monthly contract and project meetings on 4 June.
- All those who live and operate around the church and the impact of the building works.
Information letter no.3 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
The contractor has continued to make excellent progress with the construction works over the past two weeks. Demolition is almost complete and concrete is being poured into the new foundations. It is hoped steel will start to be erected for the rear building in the first week of June.
Over the past week and over the next week work will span:
- Demolition of remaining internal walls
Final stages crushing rubble which will be recycled in the foundations and the
- Further digging and concreting foundations for the new rear building
- Taking first deliveries of concrete blocks.
It is expected twice daily lorry visits will continue over the fortnight to remove excavated materials. We now have clarity on where the soakaways and services may best be deployed. Recognising these may again traverse unmarked graves, we will as planned be issuing a second Public Notice on the arrangements to support an application for a second Ministry of Justice Licence
While the building works have been progressing well, there have been some problems with logistics over the past week or so. Please pray for smooth arrangements, speedy resolution of specific issues and minimum impact of operations on neighbours nearby.
Do visit the blog to see the latest photographs. As always -if you detect any concerns, or have suggestions or encouragements to share, do email us at the team address.
Information letter no.2 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
Information letter no.2 sent from Coopers (our builders) to our neighbours.
Read a PDF version
The week has seen transition arrangements engaging fully both mid-week and on Sunday, while the builder has made huge progress demolishing major parts of the church structure that we are not retaining for the new building. Photographs in the News Blog share progress stripping out the roof and floors. Most of the rear walls are now down. The rest will be removed over the next day or so. While some of the materials are being retained for re-use on-site, much has been removed for offsite re-cycling and disposal.
The immediate next task will be to dig out the foundations for the extended building walls and to support columns and beams for the new rear building structure. This is a sensitive stage as there is a risk we may discover unmarked graves. Should this happen we have specialist teams standing by to assist. Do pray for this phase that there will be few if any discoveries.
Several have asked for a summary of the 8 month plan. It is difficult to be precise as the weather and many other factors can influence the pace week by week. In broad terms we expect:
April-mid May – demolition and foundations.
May-July – steel work, walls and roof.
August – phase 1 fit-out, electrical, plumbing and plastering.
September – phase 2 fit-out, electrical, heating and kitchen.
October -mid November – tiling, flooring, external works and finishing.
The audio visual system and shelving will be installed immediately following handover.
As mentioned last week it is very important we are aware of any problems or concerns. Email or invite those concerned to email immediately.
We are delighted that new visitors have joined us at both services at LWS having made initial contact through the web-site. We hope and pray this will continue strongly throughout the transition period.
It was fitting that the baptistery pool should act as the focus point over our last few days before building work commenced - Cornerstone used our pool for their baptismal service on Easter afternoon (as the River Thame was too cold!); LCBC celebrated with a baptismal service on Easter Sunday evening; then 20 of our work party ate much-needed fish & chips during our work party on the Monday, and, as there was no furniture left, sat around the edge of the now-empty baptistery with feet dangling over the edge to eat!
Every remaining church fitting has been removed for storage in homes, taken to the tip, or put in our trailer which will serve as our 'portable church' over the transition period, taking the items that we use every week (from drums to crèche equipment to PA system to Bibles to tea urn etc.) to and from our temporary morning service 'home' at Lord Williams's Upper School. Our Sunday evenings will be a variety of different meetings based at Church House and the Pavilion, including times of prayer and share, small groups looking at different topics, youth services and occasional services at St Mary's.
The builders are now on site and we apologise for any disruption that the work may cause to daily routines in the village. We have sought to minimise this through detailed discussions with neighbours and the parish council leading up to this point and are continuing to work with them to address some teething problems with regard to pedestrian access and information flow. During May and early June there will be many vehicles delivering and removing materials from the site via the High Street but the builder will have someone located at the front of the church throughout every day to manage movements. If you have any concerns, please email us. We hope to be back in the new building by the end of November ready to celebrate Christmas. While this will be a demanding period, we look forward to being able to welcome members of the community into our new, attractive, safe and practical facilities.
We have certainly had a month of heightened activity knowing that on 2nd April work will start on our building project! Every item in the church has either been given away, disposed of, recycled, sold, or earmarked for storage in someone's home, garage or loft so that we are ready for the builders. We thank God for the congregation and other supporters who have provided so generously towards the project’s total cost of £1.5m.
Plans for relocation of services and other activities and meetings during our time out of the building are now complete (see Transition arrangements) and our final services before handing over to the builders will be on Sunday 31st March, Easter Sunday.
A flyer is being distributed to all villagers this week explaining what is to happen over the next 8 months. You can download a pdf here.
We appreciate that the building work will inevitably cause some disruption to daily routines in the village and have sought to minimise this through detailed planning and discussions with the Parish Council and our neighbours. All deliveries will be managed by the site manager to ensure there is only one vehicle delivering at any one time and no delivery vehicles travel through the High Street beyond the church. The builder will have someone located at the front of the church throughout the day to manage movements.
There will be a telephone number for the site manager once work has started. The builder will be issuing updates every fortnight which will indicate the nature of worked planned over the following two weeks. If you would like to receive this via email or post please email us your details. Also if you have any other concerns, please feel free to email us.
We are pleased to report that preparations for our building project are moving ahead according to plan. Following the tender process that we ran before Christmas, we have now selected a preferred contractor with whom we are in detailed negotiations. Assuming that funding arrangements are finalised by the end of February, we hope to be in a position to sign a contract at the beginning of March and start construction at the beginning of April.
We have met with our immediate neighbours several times over recent months to listen to their concerns about potential disruption during the construction period and it is encouraging that the preferred contractor has been very understanding of the situation. A further meeting is being planned for March when neighbours will have the opportunity to meet the contractor before construction begins.
We still plan to continue our Sunday services and midweek activities during the period in which we will be out of the building and more information will be available shortly.
We were pleased to be granted planning permission to carry out improvements to our buildings by AVDC at the Development Control Committee meeting on November 24 2011.
Our application included a Parking strategy report (see link below) in which we described our measures to reduce the number of vehicles travelling to the church as well as the number of vehicles parking in the street. We have already started working with the Parish Council on an agreement to demonstrate the sustainability of the strategy and will be consulting with neighbours before implementing any agreement - see:
For everybody who attends the church we have a Parking leaflet that highlights the village roads close to the building where we don't want people to park as they should be left clear for residents. In some of these it is easy to create a blockage that takes time to clear - see our Good Parking Guide.
- Plan of existing building
- Plan for new application
- Plan of roof
- Site plan - existing
- Site plan - proposed
- Parking strategy
- Design and access - part 1
- Design and access - part 2
- Community engagement
More information is available via Helen in the church office.