It’s been six months since our first huge step on our adventure of growing God’s family. We’re thrilled that the Holy Spirit has led us to this place and that as a church we are continuing to say yes to God’s call. You may have heard a little of this at a church service but we wanted to take a moment to update you on the latest and what has been happening since the gift day in June.
The Building Plans
We have been considering numerous bids from architects concerning the next phase of design and have appointed Acanthus Clews, a practice in Oxfordshire, who have a lot of experience in church projects. During this process we have taken the opportunity to re-evaluate our current building plans in order to ensure they are the best they can be. Our new architect is conducting a complete review, taking into account our existing plans and the feedback we received from the church family throughout the building meals. We are really excited about this as it allows us to continue to improve the design to ensure we are building a family home which will serve us for the long term.
As part of this process we are building a project team of professionals who will support the project. This process includes conversations with quantity surveyors, structural engineers and other consultants. We’re hopeful that these improved plans will be available to share in early 2019. We’ll then need to re-apply to the council for any amendments to the original plans.
Astonishingly the total pledged and given to the building fund now stands at £1,968,124! Of this £1,018,284 has already been received with the rest due to come in over the remaining time of the pledge. Thank you so much to those who have sacrificed and given; every amount makes a huge difference.
Over the coming months we will be applying to trusts that may be interested in supporting us financially. In addition we are in an ongoing conversation with Stewardship Trust from whom we will be taking out a mortgage. This will allow us to complete the first phase of the build. The advantage of building in phases is that, although when we move into the building it won’t be in its final form, we can begin the project much sooner and meet our most urgent need - the need for space. It is a little like buying a house at the upper end of our budget knowing that you will improve it as and when we can afford to.
There is still a considerable amount that will need to be raised in order for the project to be completed – it is a £5.1 million project. But for the moment we are thrilled and rejoicing that we are in such a strong position. It is nothing short of miraculous and there is much to be thankful for!
We are aiming to begin in October of 2019 and it is likely that the build length will be about a year. As is often the case with these projects there may be some movement on this date but that’s our best estimate at the moment!
Appointment of a Project Manager
With a project of this size and scale it is important that we employ experts and professional fees have been factored into the cost of the build. Duncan Layzell has been appointed as the Project Manager. He will begin in a part-time capacity from January 2019 and his role will become full-time closer to the building start date. Duncan is a long-term member of Soul Survivor Watford and also has 25 years of construction project management experience. Having trained as a quantity surveyor with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Duncan has worked with some of the UK’s top architects, developers and contractors on prestigious projects such as The Shard and the Kings Cross station redevelopment. Duncan has owned and managed his own group of construction companies and so brings with him a detailed knowledge of the construction process. Duncan’s role, alongside other things, will be to ensure that budgets are controlled and the entire build delivers value for money.
Where will we be meeting in the meantime?
We have had some very promising discussions with a nearby school – Bushey Academy - and hope that this could provide a location for us to meet throughout the build. We are in the process of ensuring it will meet our needs and provide space for the children and youth as well as have adequate car parking. Wherever we end up it won’t be as comfortable as our own home, but we are expectant that this solution will allow the 10.30am congregation to stay together on a Sunday morning – our preferred option! The 4.30pm and the 7pm services will continue to meet in Warehouse 7 throughout the build and we are currently looking at how we can re-jig these spaces to make extra capacity.
We’re excited and expectant for the road ahead. The biggest encouragement is that God is continuing to grow His family. We are seeing people give their lives to Jesus. More and more children and young people continue to join us. The recent Invite One events from Homemade Christmas to the Christmas Ball and Panto have seen hundreds come to our home who would never normally walk through the doors of a church. The work we are able to do serving the most vulnerable in our community is expanding almost beyond our ability to keep up. God is at work. This is part of our keeping in step with Him!
Mike, Andy and the team.