3rd September 2019

Dear fellow member,

Over the past few months I have been providing updates in Good Neighbour and the Orders of Service as our work to create a sustainable worshipping congregation for future generations has progressed. As you know, the Kirk Session agreed to appoint an architect to look at two options for the future, namely redeveloping and extending the current sanctuary or building a new church on the site of the manse. In each case the remaining land and buildings would be sold for new housing. That work has now been completed and at its last meeting the Session agreed that its preferred option is to redevelop and extend the current sanctuary building.

While a new church building was initially an attractive possibility it was clear that it would be more difficult for at least two reasons. The first related to a number of town planning requirements that would have resulted in a more costly option than had been anticipated and also less land being available for sale. The second reason was the lack of interest from developers in converting the current sanctuary building into flatted accommodation. The Session had committed that this building would not be demolished and so in the absence of a viable option for its conversion to housing, the new build option could no longer be pursued.

Therefore the preferred option is to redevelop and extend the current sanctuary building. What this means is that the current sanctuary building will be retained. The pews will be removed to provide more flexible and useable space and an extension will be built on the manse side to comprise a multi purpose hall, toilets, office, café and soft play area. The current halls will be demolished and the land to the north of the sanctuary will be sold for development. This could be for flats or a residential home or a combination of both. The current manse will be sold and a new manse built in the ground between the existing manse and Mansefield Road. A new entrance level to the church complex will be created off Mansefield Road with a path being retained from Eaglesham Road.

Two key issues for us are to ensure that the resultant building will meet our needs and that we can afford it. Having looked in some detail at the redeveloped church complex and mapped on to it all the activities that we currently do, we are certain on the first point. We will have a modern, fit for purpose community church complex while at the same time retaining the history and memories attached to the current sanctuary. Affordability is always harder to establish as it depends on so many factors. Estimates of the cost of the proposed work have been prepared by our architect and quantity surveyor. We also have estimates of what we might expect from the sale of surplus land and when we take one from the other we are left with a funding gap. Our aim is to keep that gap to a minimum. At the moment it is in the region of £1m. This is the kind of gap that the General Trustees have said would be acceptable. As we move on with the project we will try to reduce this gap. We will also continue to explore ways of keeping the long term running costs as low as possible, sustainability being at the heart of the project.

We know from discussion with the General Trustees that our aim should be to bridge the funding gap in three ways, through grants from relevant grant awarding bodies, from congregational giving and from the General Trustees themselves.

No final decision has been made. A great deal of work has to be done before we are in a position to make a firm recommendation to proceed. At the moment the Session has agreed to proceed with a specified programme of work, following which we will seek Session approval for (i) the appointment of a developer for the land to the north of the sanctuary, (ii) a more detailed development plan for the entire site plan and (iii) more detailed costs. Following that, a detailed planning application will be drawn up and it is at that stage detailed plans and cost estimates will be provided for the congregation. A series of information meetings will be held ahead of a congregational meeting to make the final decision. This is likely to be held in the New Year.

The major caveat in presenting any kind of timetable is that we are of course dependent on a range of external professionals and public officials and processes, plus the normal uncertainties of development work. The above programme represents our best view at the moment.

In the room above the vestry that our JAM group of teenagers decorated themselves, there is a text from Jeremiah on the wall that reads, “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to give you hope and a future”. Those who built Greenbank all those years ago took a great stride forward in faith, trusting in God that what they were doing would indeed be part of God’s plan for the future. It is our turn now to take another step in faith, believing that God has a plan for our Church in our community so that for generations to come we will continue to be able to witness to Him in all we do and say.

The next you will hear is when we send you details of the scheme being recommended together with an invitation to an information meeting. In the meantime please remember this work in your private prayer and thoughts and if you have any questions or comments then my details are on the Noticeboard issued with the September Good Neighbour or just drop a letter into the office at any time.

Yours sincerely

Gordon Dickson

Legacy Coordinating Group