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Malton Methodist Church unveils details of transformation plans for its historic building at the heart of the town

Images courtesy of PPIY Architects, 94 The Mount, York, 01904 623034, www.ppiy.co.uk

MALTON, NORTH YORKSHIRE; 28 NOVEMBER, 2016: The Methodist Church in Saville Street, Malton, has unveiled dramatic plans for its proposed transformation, to create a Community Hub for the town, open all day, every day. Once seating 1,000 people, and still one of the largest buildings of its kind in Ryedale, the Grade II* listed Church first opened its doors in 1811, but has become too large for the current congregation.  There are now plans to sympathetically transform the building to ensure that it can continue to serve the people of Malton for further generations to come.     

The historic Church, which has been on the current site in Saville Street for more than 200 years, considered options for its continuance in the town following the discovery of significant structural issue with its roof in September 2015.

Speaking about its Saville Street Church in Malton, the Methodist minister, the Revd Tanya Short said: “This wonderful building was designed for a different age more than two centuries ago, but for today’s needs – whilst respecting its heritage, we have to make some significant changes, especially to the interior. Without change, we’re certain that the building has little or no future. We believe this is the best way, not simply to save the building at any cost, but for the Church to use its assets and resources for the benefit of the whole community.”

Malton has a dearth of usable community space, and in order to meet the needs of a rapidly growing town, which is expected to see its population increase by 40-50% within 10 years, the Church has been developing its detailed plans over the past year.

Early in 2016, the Church appointed the York-based conservation architectural firm of PPIY Architects+ to create an imaginative scheme, and whilst the Saville Street façade of the building will remain virtually unaltered, the interior of the Church will be sympathetically transformed.

The proposed design utilises a combination of best practice in conservation architecture and creativity, whilst adopting the use of contemporary materials and form of the highest quality.

On the ground floor, a new welcome space will be created, with a café, and information point. Behind a screen of contemporary glass, there’ll be a large multi-functional hospitality space capable of hosting either a seated meal or wedding reception for 125 people, or use as an elegant gallery space for exhibitions, as a gathering and meeting place for festivals, or as a space to accommodate up 225 people for a reception.  This space will also be capable of division into either two or three smaller areas – all serviced by a large professionally equipped catering kitchen for special events.

On the first floor, a new elegant well-equipped 300-seat auditorium will be developed from the current gallery space, sympathetically re-seated using the existing raked amphitheatre form of the building, whilst creating a unique venue of special character for conferences, concerts, public meetings – and a smaller space for the Church to use on Sunday’s and at other times. The floor of the auditorium will be partly constructed of structural glass, enabling the original form of the entire building to remain visible from each vantage point. The new facilities within the auditorium are designed to complement other venues in the town, enriching Malton’s reputation – not only as Yorkshire’s Food Capital – but also as an established destination in Ryedale for the arts and the home of good quality music.

An historic pipe organ is to be restored and reinstated to the new auditorium, rescued from redundancy in another listed building in Britain, providing a three manual instrument of significant merit that will be used for concert purposes, for recital works, for church worship, and also made readily available to schools in the area to encourage music students to learn the classical organ.

A new basement area will be created primarily for storage, accessed via a passenger lift and a feature circular staircase; the basement level will also provide toilet facilities to service the whole complex, and permitting ‘through’ access at all times to a reinstated three-storey rear annex, fronting Chapel Lane.  This will provide an array of modern meeting rooms and offices available for community use, at affordable rates. Another larger lift in the transformed building will provide level access, especially for the disabled and those with special needs, to every part of the Community Hub.

Paul Emberley, a spokesman for the Church in Malton added: “This is an ambitious project. But whilst we’ve been refining our plans during the year, we’ve also consulted widely with the community, and this has validated our belief that there is a need for such a Community Hub in the heart of Malton. But it also has to be acknowledged that the Saville Street Church building is simply not sustainable for any purpose, without change.”

There is evidence to suggest wide public support for such a scheme. In an opinion poll by the Churches Trust in December 2014, four in five (79%) of British people thought that churches and chapels are an important part of the UK’s heritage and history. In the survey, three quarters of people (74%) said that church buildings play an important role for society by providing a space for community activities, such as playgroups, cultural and social events, and meetings. Three in five people (59%) disagree with the idea that ‘repairing and restoring historic church buildings only benefits churchgoers’.

The preliminary plans have now been made available to statutory consultees, including Historic England and Ryedale District Council, and the Methodist Church authorities are expected to determine in late January 2017 whether the project can proceed in principle. In common with a number of other denominations, the Methodist Church in Great Britain has ecclesiastical exemption for certain works to its buildings, which is why this type of scheme requires specific approval from its Listed Buildings Advisory Committee.

The Church is particularly keen to know what people think of the plans and its proposals for the iconic building in Malton. Further details, including plans, elevations, and sections, together with more images and a design statement, can be viewed on the Church website: www.maltonmethodists.org. You can email a comment to enquires@maltonmethodists.org, or via Facebook:@MaltonChurch

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