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The Wesley Centre, Malton

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

The historic Methodist Church in Saville Street, Malton, has unveiled dramatic plans for a £1.5 million transformation as a Community Hub, and also to be imaginatively re-purposed as a 550 seat Concert Hall.  The new ‘Wesley Centre’, will 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 became too large for the current congregation.  There are now well developed plans to sympathetically transform the building to ensure that it can continue to serve the people of Malton and Ryedale 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 a 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 were certain that the building had 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 two years.

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 this, there’ll also be a large multi-functional hospitality space capable of hosting either a seated meal or wedding reception for up to 150 people, or for 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 serviced by a large professionally equipped catering kitchen for special events.

The new facilities within the building 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 32 stop 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 three storey rear annex will also be reinstated, with each floor accessible by passenger lift and a feature circular staircase.

On the ground floor there will be new cloakrooms as well as the professional catering kitchen, a quiet room open daily for private reflection, and a Church vestry.  On the upper floors (and in the adjacent building of 12 Saville Street), there’ll be an array of variable sized modern meeting rooms available to all the community.

Paul Emberley, project development lead, added:

“This is an exciting project. But whilst we’ve been refining our plans during the last two years, we’ve also consulted widely with the community, and this has validated our belief that there is a need for such a re-purposed building 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’s evidence to suggest wide public support for such a scheme. In a recent opinion poll by the Churches Trust, 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 outline plans have now been made available to statutory consultees, including Historic England and Ryedale District Council, and the Methodist Church authorities are expected to give final consent for the scheme in April 2018. 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.

Do tell us what you think.

Further details, including reports, plans, elevations, and sections, together with more images, can be viewed on these pages. You can also email a comment to enquires@maltonmethodists.org, or via Facebook: @MaltonChurch

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