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Howarth Litchfield to create a new place of worship

A Sunderland church has chosen award-winning architectural practice, Howarth Litchfield, to develop innovative plans to create a beacon in the community by updating and extending its current place of worship.

Bethany Memorial Independent Methodist Church, located on Gleneagles Road, Grindon, has appointed the practice as lead designer and to provide full architectural services as well as contract administration services on a proposed extension and internal remodelling of its existing church.

The building, which was constructed in the late ‘50s, struggles to meet the needs of the church in its current state, as it anticipates growth in worshipper numbers. Furthermore, it is neither energy efficient nor easily accessed by wheelchair users. Its current layout also limits the building’s use for other non-worship activities.

Led by director, Keith Handy, Howarth Litchfield will use its extensive experience of successfully delivering ecclesiastical projects of this type to meet the client’s brief creating a modern place of worship which boasts low energy credentials whilst providing flexible internal spaces to more easily host a wider range of events and activities.

Following initial discussions with the church and stakeholders, several high-level options were considered before reaching a solution which, Keith believes, will more than meet the church’s aspirations. He said:

“Bethany Memorial Independent Methodist Church sits within a large catchment area, attracting worshippers from other areas including Hebburn and is very much part of the fabric of the local community. 

“While designing a new extension and fully remodelling the building, it is our intention to retain and utilise some features of the existing building while improving the external appearance.  This will contrast with a crisp new extension featuring modern contemporary cladding and large open areas of glass. The old and the new will be seamlessly linked by a central café space which will become the hub of the building and a great space for use by the community.

Speaking about appointing Howarth Litchfield, the church’s investment in the community and its worshippers, Church Leaders Pat and Kevin Hodgson, said:

“This is an exciting time for everyone involved in the church and the wider community. We would dearly love to provide more space to be able to welcome and accommodate an increase in number to the congregation as well as a wider range of activities for the community, including creating a venue that can host larger events such as conferences and weddings, to support the needs of a broader range of users. We have every confidence that Keith and the team at Howarth Litchfield will create a design which will give us the ‘beacon’ building/facility we desire.”  

“Making the building more energy efficient will also significantly reduce operating costs, creating savings which we can put to better use within the community.”

Currently, at pre-app planning stage, Howarth Litchfield is working with project managers and quantity surveyors, Todd Milburn, civil and structural design engineers Portland Consulting Engineers and building services design engineers, Sine Consulting, to develop a detailed cost plan for the scheme.

Howarth Litchfield anticipates submitting a planning application in the autumn.

Abi Bentley-Cottam
Article by Abi Bentley-Cottam
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