Monday, 9 March 2015

How to Object to the Planning Application for Alterations to Holy Trinity Church Headington Quarry

A notice has appeared pinned to the post at the top of the footpath from Quarry Road to Holy Trinity Church, informing local people that a planning application has been formally submitted and we can comment on it, on the City Council's website. Somebody  - (and it wasn't me)  - has scrawled on the notice "Say No!"
   Whoever it was, is expressing the prevalent view. The plan is just not popular and Quarry residents have many misgivings about its feasibility, viability and appropriateness for this spot. There is the issue of desecrating graves - then there is also the subsidence issue  - the parking issue - and there are many more. Building on the north side would ruin the beautiful C.S.Lewis Narnia window which is one of the main attractions and features of the church.

Here is the link:-

So far all the comments submitted are against the proposal.
Mine is as follows.
I am a parish councillor for Quarry and Risinghurst. I attend the church as a parishioner.
There is very strong local feeling in the community against this plan, and I urge you to reject it. If pushed through, the result could be a long-term estrangement and resentment between the church and the village.
On January 22nd I attended the meeting organised by the Holy Trinity Preservation Group at the Mason's Arms. There were upwards of fifty people, all local residents, and when a show of hands was taken and not one person at the meeting was in favour.
The new plan is not very different from the one proposed two years ago and while it appears smaller (no precise measurements are given) it is still sited in an area on the north side of the church where there are many relatively new graves. The claim that these would not be affected by building work is just not very plausible. These are the family graves of local residents. They don't want the graves of their parents, husbands, wives, children and in some cases grandchildren built over, dug up or trampled on by people using a new northern entrance to the church.
Quarry is an area with ACUTE problems of subsidence and underground instability due to the quarrying over centuries. If builders start to dig, they may disturb the church and cause structural damage.
The extension to the nearby school encountered severe problems which make this scheme reckless and inadvisable. If the church needs a new meeting room, why don't they build it at the bottom of the vicarage garden where suitable site is available?
The space there is used for absolutely nothing at present. There is also the option of making more use of the community room in the primary school, which is just outside the churchyard gates on the eastern side.
The plan offered by the vicar is far too big and involves unacceptable changes to the interior of the building. Tourists who come to see C.S. Lewis's church appreciate it being essentially as it was in his time. The plans would ruin the beautiful memorial window which is on the North wall and needs light to be seen properly and function as a window. This is one of the loveliest features of the church.
It is absolutely stupid to rip out purpose-built choirstalls, and turn them into foldable ones, creating unnecessary chores and a need for storage space. Just leave them alone! It is also stupid to build an extension to the chancel, with a step that would just create a trip hazard. A church is not a theatre.
To rip out the two front pews would be absolutely wrong too, as the church is short of seating space and is often very full at services, funerals and weddings. The front pews are needed by deaf people. Pews are on the whole better than chairs as children can fidget in them without knocking them over. And they don't need a storage room in an extension!
With cushions they can be made comfortable.
The current plan includes a meeting-room, a large "choir room" (as well as the existing vestry), two toilets, a baby-changing room, two storage areas, a flower preparation room and a lobby. That is far too large and ambitious. If the parish council is determined to steam-roller ahead and build on this area despite the strength of local feeling against it, I suggest just building ONE room, where the current plan says "choir room". This space could include a toilet without steps. The current WC could be turned into a small kitchenette. All you need is a sink and the space to stand a kettle and a tray. It doesn't have to be cordon bleu.
If parents in church need to take their baby out because it is crying, they can at present just take it into the porch, where there is seating and which by the way, does NOT need glass doors. (Glass doors could be vandalised, as glass bus stops so often are) People don't need to bring prams inside the church and they certainly don't need a purpose-built changing room.
As for the idea of building storage cupboards at the west end of the church, that would only add to the clutter and the over-crowding in a small space. Reducing seating is perverse. All of it is needed. I suggest that the interior of the church is left alone.
Future generations with good taste may much regret the loss of beautiful choirstalls and pews that are part of the essential Victorian design.
Local parishioners certainly feel that way.
Once further word about parking. There is no vehicle access to the church from the West side, only a footpath through from Quarry Road. That would make this an unsuitable site either for building work or for frequent use as a parish hall. The only vehicle access is from Trinity Road, where there is no public parking space. A few cars are tolerated there at times of funerals and weddings, but it is an ongoing problem. Turning this area into a parish hall that would be used for a wide variety of purposes would just not work as there is no space for parking. Cars might park on the slope outside the nursery school, which is dangerous and obstructive. Far better to hold events at the Coach House where there is a car park.
Many at the recent meeting also expressed the view that this extravagant plan is a waste of money that could be spent on many worthy, and needy, causes. That is a view I share.

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