All Saints church was gutted by fire on 22nd June 2015, so we have just marked the 2nd anniversary of this terrible event.
In the aftermath of the fire it took many months to clear away the debris and make the church safe and secure.
Immediately after the fire the parish received overwhelming support from people in our community and far afield.
Despite our never having launched an appeal, over £75,000 has so far been donated to the ‘All Saints Fund’.
An appeal has not been launched because All Saints was thankfully fully insured, and a ‘like for like’ rebuild of the church would be covered by insurance.
However, from the beginning the parish decided not simply to rebuild, but to build in a way that will ‘Honour the past and build for the future’. We therefore set about asking the community what they would want from their church in future. Their responses formed a 56 page document.
It was quite clear from this response that people loved All Saints church but would want it to be a more flexible building in future, accessible to all, usable by a wide range of community groups and activities, and with improved site lines.
We then set about the task of appointing a firm of architects who could help us realise our vision for the rebuilding of All Saints. We eventually appointed Acanthus Clews Architects of Banbury.
Acanthus Clews drew up plans for five different ways we might meet our needs going forward:
- Rebuild exactly as the church was before the fire.
- Rebuild as was but with improved porches, significant internal improvements, and some new buildings attached to the church by a cloister and built in the church yard on the north side.
- All of the above, but with 2 internal piers removed in order to make more space and facilitate a nave altar.
- The removal of all internal piers in order to create an open space for worship, concerts, drama and a range of community activities.
- Rebuild the church, but then use it as a community space. In addition demolish the parish centre next door and build a new church in its place with all the facilities we are looking for.
After wide consultation and costing, the PCC agreed to pursue option 4 as its preferred option.
The Diocesan Advisory Committee, English Heritage, Victorian society, and others were then consulted about whether permission would be granted to go ahead with option 4.
It is clear that there would be significant opposition to the removal of piers from the nave of the church. Other options were more favourably received.
In the light of this the PCC now have to decide whether to continue with their preferred option, or modify their plans.
It is still our hope to provide Fleet with a church that will serve God and its people for generations to come.
- This article was published in the July Parish Magazine