Parish Planning for the Future
Where are we now? Update October 2012
In April 2012, Steering Group II presented a report on its progress to the Parish Forum. In order for the wider Parish to be apprised of the thinking, this brief report is offered in the interests of openness and transparency. The Steering Group would be pleased to receive any feedback.
Steering Group II was set up in 2010 to follow up the recommendations of Steering Group I, led by Paul Sloane, to rationalise the church provision in the Parish. Its brief
was to examine, cost and develop two alternative plans that will provide the parish with a viable future for 2020 and beyond. The two plans were:
ANew-BuildChurchinCamberley, closing and selling all existing properties and buildings with a major new construction on a suitable site; if no new site could be
identified, it was envisaged that the existing SS Peter & John site could be selected for a new build church.
The development of St Tarcisius site, radically upgrading the existing Grade II Listed Church. Within this scenario, the SS Peter & John site and 11 Bell Place
would be sold, with Christ the King remaining open as a Mass centre. In 2011, the members of the Steering Group held discussions with several bodies in an attempt to identify a possible site for a new build church:
Surrey County Council, to discuss any possible school sites which may be available, including the possibility of co-locating a new Church with a Catholic School;
Surrey Heath Borough Council, particularly in regard to the 2012 Consultation on the Future of Camberley Town Centre and any possible sites that may emerge;
Industrial and commercial organisations in relation to new use of sites. For example, an approach was made to Focus Do it All to enquire about the Frimley Road site but we were told it was an essential site for the future development of the business... and a few months later it became Matalan! This demonstrated the need for fleet-footedness in the commercial market which the Parish is simply not able to achieve, even if
a good site were to emerge in the future. The Group concluded that the only realistic sites for consolidation of the Parish would be SS Peter & John or St Tarcisius. However, the group was particularly exercised by the thinking of the Diocese in relation to Camberley. Is a solution for the A30 corridor of Camberley and Bagshot
Catholic Parish the most sensible development for the Catholic Church in Surrey Heath? With the continuing decline in the number of priests in the Diocese, would a
more sensible solution be to combine the Parish with our Lady Queen of Heaven in Frimley? The Group undertook an analysis of the parishes in the Diocese by size and by number of churches. Camberley and Bagshot is the second smallest parish and
has three church properties. Overall within the Diocese, Camberley and Bagshot is almost exactly the average size for a parish, although clearly it is an outlier in terms of
number of properties.
The Diocese is due to publish a document on the projected availability of priests in 2020 and beyond. The document was expected in the early part of 2012 but has not yet
appeared. One proposal being considered, which would have signficant implications across the Diocese, is that each deanery will need to lose one priest. In our own
deanery, with such unevenly sized parishes, it is difficult to see how a priest could be lost without merging parishes.
The Steering Group believes that this is the most important planning issue when considering the future of our Parish. Would it be sensible to proceed with plans for
the development of the Camberley and Bagshot Parish, involving major capital expense in the order of £millions, if a decision were to be taken in the next few years to
rationalise the Deanery? For example, if the Diocese decided to merge Frimley with
Camberley & Bagshot, the new parish would have around 1230 parishioners. Whilst large, it would be smaller than Woking and such an approach may well be regarded, in the current climate, as a sensible solution for Surrey Heath. The Steering Group has therefore concluded that no further active work should be undertaken on the rationalisation of the Parish until a clear steer is received from the Diocese
on the future of the parishes within the deanery.
Nevertheless, the group has undertaken some work on the two possible sites for the development of the Parish. The SS Peter & John site (SPJ) has the potential for a
bigger church but a significant increase in car parking spaces would be unlikely, given the greater footprint required by the building. If it were possible to extend the
site, then a larger church with parking would be possible, subject to planning permission.
The St Tarcisius site (TAR) is more difficult to develop because of the listed nature (Grade II) of the War Memorial Church and the locally listed Priest’s House. We have discussed both sites with the local planning authority, including the possibility of disposing of one of the sites for another use. The planning authority has indicated
that it would be relatively straightforward to develop the SPJ site for housing and that this site is therefore more saleable. The listed nature of the TAR site makes its
development for other purposes less likely although there would be the possibility of a small housing development in the land bordering Grand Avenue and Lower Charles
Street. The potential for a new build is greatest at SPJ. The demolition of the existing church and buildings would mean that a new architect-designed church could be erected in a relatively short period.
The potential for extending St Tarcisius Church has been considered. This might involve the demolition of the locally listed Priest’s House to enable an extension of the Church to the west. Planners have indicated that they would look sympathetically at such a proposal provided that the extension was architecturally sensitive and in keeping with the existing building; the local listing of the Priest’s House would not necessarily be a barrier to its demolition.
The Steering Group has seen an example of a similar project at Clare Priory in Suffolk. There, a narrow Grade I listed, historic monument Church, owned by the Augustinians, is in the process of being extended. The Friars have received great support from the local community and they believe that the new Church will bring many benefits, enabling the Parish to grow and prosper. It could be seen as a template for the development of St Tarcisius. Consultation on the future of Camberley Town Centre
In February 2012, Surrey Heath Borough Council launched a consultation on the future development of Camberley Town Centre. It sought views on a number of proposals,
including the identification of three Town Centre Gateways, one of which is located on the London Road at the junction with Lower Charles Street, on which corner sits St Tarcisius Church. On behalf of the Parish, the Steering Group wrote a response to the Council welcoming the proposals and suggested that, if St Tarcisius Church were to be developed, it would be ideally suited to mark the Western Gateway to Camberley. The response also suggested that the Parish would be eager to share its thinking with the Council and would support the introduction of increased car parking in
the vicinity of the London Road. The response was endorsed by the Parish Forum in April 2012, before its submission. To date, whilst the Parish’s submission has been acknowledged, there has been no more detailed response from the Borough. Therefore,
for the time being...Even though the Parish Finance Committee has earmarked funds for a feasibility study by architects into the development of a new building, the Steering Group believes that it should await a clearer view from the Diocese.
Until we understand the strategy of the Diocese in relation to parish reorganisation in the light of falling numbers of priests, there is little sense in spending parish money on
what might turn out to be an unachievable project.
Dr. John Guy
Chair on behalf of Steering Group 11
Parish Priest's New Year Letter to the Parish - Dated 1 January 2011
First of all may I wish you a very Happy New Year. Around us the world looks bleakish and it seems that cuts and reductions in services will be very much part the landscape for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless we Christians are optimists by faith. We have the Lord and we have each other. My first thought in this letter is to encourage you in prayer. This is what nourishes us and sustains us. Closeness to God at Mass and as we chatter to him through the day brings huge comfort and strength to us as we journey through our lives together. Secondly a good New Year’s resolution would be for us all to keep an eye out for our neighbours. Particularly in our routine bouts of bad weather, a helping hand or a word of greeting with a smile especially for the elderly and infirm, can rank as a minor miracle and have a wonderful effect.
As our parish moves into 2011 I hope that everyone will take a glance at our website www.cbparish.co.uk . There you will see something of the range of our parish activities. Centred on the Eucharist there really is something for everybody and I do hope that many more parishioners will become actively involved with the work of the parish. This winter I am looking in particular for young mums, dads or single people who can help out with a new group that will help me prepare parents for the baptism of their children. In these times of austerity the SVP have truly come into their own. I cannot commend highly enough John Looby and his loyal and hardworking band of SVP volunteers. Week after week the SVP van takes huge loads of furniture to needy people given a flat and nothing else. The SVP provides daily support to vulnerable people of all shapes and sizes. If you would be interested in joining this ‘action arm,’ of the Church then you will be most welcome. I was delighted too that so many members of our parish have joined Camberley Street Angels project. A huge ‘thank you’ to the many Commissioned Ministers of Holy Communion who bring Communion to the sick and housebound on a weekly basis. This ministry together with other Liturgical ministries makes our parish tick. The contribution of our Catechists too is of the very highest standard. I won’t list what everybody does but you get the picture. I just want to thank everybody who contributes in any way to the work of the Church in our part of the vineyard of the Lord. Each day the mission of the Church is taken forward by individuals and groups to great effect and in 2011 I hope that we can develop a mission plan for the parish based on spiritual renewal. More later.
In March (18-20) Bishop Kieran will be in the parish. Details of his visit are not yet fully worked out but apart from his celebrating our Sunday Masses that weekend, I hope that that we will have a parish social while he is here. I would like him to meet some of our young people particularly those going to Madrid for the World Youth Day in August also the Confirmation Group. Another Barn Dance might be fun for both him and for us.
During his visit Bishop Kieran will meet both the Parish Finance Committee and the Parish Development Steering Group. This brings to me to an update as to where we are with plans for the parish and our beautiful churches. The new Steering Group (SG11) began its work under the chairmanship of Dr John Guy last summer. As you know the remit of the group was to examine two possible plans for the parish both designed to find a way to ensure the effective continuation of the mission of the Church in our area beyond 2020 with fewer priests. Most people are now fully aware that we are simply not going to return to a plenitude of clergy any time soon. There is a wide acknowledgement in the parish that retaining three church buildings, two halls, and three priest residences is nice but somewhat extravagant especially since there are no less the nine Catholic churches situated within a twelve mile radius of our parish borders. In the end, with a parish population of 550 or so, maintaining so much infrastructure is simply not sustainable. Mounting maintenance costs apart, few are happy with the limitations imposed on each of our three communities regarding Mass times and the operating of a three-church parish with just one priest. Over three meetings SG11 have reviewed the work of the first Steering Group and have looked in depth at various options for both a new build church somewhere in Camberley, including the SS Peter & John site as well as a major development on the St Tarcisius site. Discussions both with the diocese and the deanery have been opened and every possible conceivable option, no matter how far fetched, has been explored to see if there is some other solution to our problems. Recently John Guy, Julian Oliver and I visited St Dunstan’s in Woking and talked to Fr Frank and his team. We heard of the ups and downs over twenty years as they developed the project to build the new St Dunstan’s parish church and demolish the old site. As the youngsters say, it was an awesome presentation. In short there is no substantial news to give you at the moment. The riddle is quite difficult and the solution needs to reflect not nostalgia but the long-term needs of the Catholic Church and its mission in our area. Having talked to the bishop and to many other parish priests facing similar challenges my feeling is that we should make haste slowly. This is of course frustrating since all of us would want to get on with things. Nevertheless, I am loath to make any changes or recommend any closures until a sound plan is on the table, one that we are all behind and one that we can even be enthusiastic and excited about. We are not there yet. A quick, easy and yet wrong decision now would put us back years and of course we can only spend the money that we have once. May I ask you to pray very hard for our parish at this time of change also for the members of the Steering Group.
Finally, may I thank you for generous giving over 2010. This year we have a number of agreed causes to support not least our own CAFOD Ethiopia-Connect campaign. Nurturing the faith of the young is also important. Sending 7 young parishioners off to Madrid in August for World Youth Day can only be a positive action of the parish. God Bless for the year ahead.
MGR B R MADDERS
Parish Priest's Letter to the Parish Dated 19 July 2010
Camberley & Bagshot Catholic Parish: Parish Development
As you know over the past two and a half years the parish has been considering how best it may meet the demands of the future. A number of papers have been written, consultation has been wide and various parish committees formed from members of the communities of St Tarcisius, Camberley, St Peter & St John, Camberley North and Christ the King, Bagshot. Together we have deliberated long and hard to find a way ahead. Finally in 2009 a Steering Group was formed and produced a report in which recommendations were made. Essentially the report recommended that all three churches be closed and that a brand new church be built somewhere in the parish. Following the parish meetings in October 2009 I took soundings from the main parish committees and a large number of parishioners. It has become clear that only two ways ahead are true starters likely to be acceptable to the community. Both the newly formed Parish Pastoral Council and the parish AGM met on Thursday 22 April. At both meetings I outlined two possible Parish Development Plans:
a. First Development Plan: A new Build Church in Camberley. The plan envisages closing and selling all existing properties and buildings and constructing something new on a suitable site. Within this plan it is possible for the existing SS Peter & John site to be selected as the site for a new build church. If so the change here would involve something of a rebuild. The plan should include a scoping study to include the search for a site, purchase of land, and the likelihood of planning permission. The new church should have adequate parking facilities and be eco-friendly. Full estimates should be given. A transport and parking plan will be produced. The priest’s house would be located on or near to the site. Sketches and models for a new build church design should be made available.
b. Second Development Plan: Develop St Tarcisius site. Plans will be drawn up to radically upgrade the existing Grade 11 Listed St Tarcisius Church site. The refurbished and extended St Tarcisius should be modern, user-friendly, comfortable, welcoming and immediately attractive. In this, old and new must blend to create a multipurpose worship space that is adaptable, eco-friendly, secure and easily maintained. The plan should encompass building additional church space as well as providing meeting rooms and offices to the side of the church on the garden side. A transport and parking plan will be produced. The plan should include a scoping study to include the likelihood of planning permission. Sketches and models for the additions and modifications to the property should be made available. Plans should include the sale of the SS Peter & John site at a point when work to St Tarcisius is completed. Christ the King will remain open in this plan. 11 Bell Place will be sold and a property near St Tarcisius purchased. Sketches and models for a new build church design should be made available.
At the PPC and AGM I also outlined a number of principles and assumptions:
a. Ideally a single church solution for the C&B is preferable for parish cohesion. However, a two church solution will be acceptable. Maintaining 3 churches is deemed unsustainable in the long term.
b. The parish will proceed alone without reference to OLQH, Frimley.
c. The parish will proceed on the understanding that the diocese has no plan of its own for the area.
d. Consideration will need to be given to the most appropriate new location for the Parish Priest's residence.
Regarding ‘what next?’ the intention now is to:
a. form a Steering Group 11 to develop the 2 plans.
b. invite the bishop to spend some time with us over the coming year. At some point in 2011 or 2012 he should be invited to the parish and remain for several days including a weekend. During this period a number of set times will be given for parishioners to come and view the 2 plans which would include models, drawings and costings. Alternatives would be discussed with the bishop, myself, members of the Steering Group and others as required.
A process will be determined to see which plan has the greatest support. The Parish Pastoral Council will then discuss the results of the consultative process.
If I am completely happy that the parish is behind me on a single viable way ahead then I will submit a formal recommendation to the bishop and other diocesan authorities. Once approval for a plan has been given then a Project Manager and Project Group will be formed to drive the plan to completion.
Dr John Guy has kindly agreed to head the Steering Group (SG11) and he, the Parish Finance Committee and I will be forming this group over the summer. For this it would be helpful if anyone in the parish with experience of such developments could volunteer their services. SG11 will report in the spring of 2011. Progress may be followed on our website. The two alternative plans reflect the crystallised views of parishioners. All indications are that if the process described above is followed then the C&B parish will turn a corner and head towards growth and development particularly among young families. Most in our parish are agreed that doing nothing is a poor option. Both plans give as a win-win future providing our geographical area with a strong and sustainable centre for our Church up to 2020 and well beyond.
In the meantime some minor adjustment are being made. Our Sunday Mass time at St Tarcisius presently on a Sunday at 9am will move to 9.30am. I hope that this will be attractive to young families and be more ‘user friendly’ time for those who attend now. The proposed change was enthusiastically endorsed when I put the matter to a vote at the PPC, the AGM and indeed to the 9am Mass congregation itself. The Wednesday 10am Mass at SS Peter & John and the Thursday 10am Mass at Christ the King will both move to 9.30am.
On another matter I urgently need some help in some specific areas. We need new members for the Parish Finance Committee also nominations for parishioners to sit on the Parish Advisory Group. This group is being formed to advise me on various topics ranging from forming a schools policy to keeping up to date with Church policy and programmes. Additionally and perhaps more urgently I need some young motivated parishioners to help me with preparing parents bringing infants for baptism. All too often too little instruction or indeed contact is offered to the parents of infants and sadly we then see little of the family again after the service. A team to provide a welcome, some instruction but more important a link to the community could do wonders. Anne Newling-Ward has kindly agreed to head up this project. For the very many who already so generously give of their time and effort for the parish – my grateful thanks and appreciation.
Finally the Church Management Group have recommended that we hold occasional Ground Clearance Weekends. At each church we will be looking for some help on specific weekends so as to keep our grounds in good order. Additionally the Parish Finance Committee have approved some money being spent to paint the parish hall at SPJ and to buy some new chairs, curtains and tables. Some repair work will also be undertaken at the hall and front wall at St Tarcisius (knocked down 5 times in the last 12 months). However, the Parish Finance Committee have agreed with me that we make no major expenditure on buildings and infrastructure, except for vital health & safety repairs, until we have decided our way ahead as a parish. This is surely sensible.
At the AGM in April I said how important it was for us all to pray and pray hard for our parish. Psalm 127 Verse 1 has constantly been in mind as together we have thought long and hard about what to do and I commend it to you:
Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labour in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
God bless you all
MGR B R MADDERS
Summary of the Recommendations of the Camberley and Bagshot
Parish Steering Group
The steering group consists of parishioners drawn from the three Catholic churches that make up the combined parish. Its brief was to select and rank the best strategic options for the parish regarding churches and properties. There are two forces driving change. We face a severe reduction in the number of priests – the diocese forecasts that numbers will approximately halve over the next 20 years. Secondly we have a surfeit of property whose maintenance costs are a heavy financial burden. The parish owns three churches, three priests’ houses and two sets of parish rooms. It therefore makes sense to rationalise our real estate and to choose a long-term strategy that will meet the needs of future Catholics.
The Selection Criteria
After deliberation the steering group selected the following criteria as the key factors in selecting a church and property strategy. They are in order of importance
1. Flexibility for future growth and adaptation
2. Maximise capacity for Mass attendance
3. Build a cohesive parish community
4. Provide good parking
5. Offer good parish rooms, office and priest's house
6. Minimise ongoing running costs
7. Good image in the community and attractive to newcomers
8. Minimize disruption, cost, complexity and risk
The group considered eight different options based on retaining three churches, two churches or one church. It was decided that the best strategic choice would be to have a single church and single set of rooms to serve the parish. We can get there in stages with three then two then one church but if we start with the end in mind we can plan the interim stages.
The group then considered three options in greater detail. These were a redeveloped church on the St Peter and St John site, a redeveloped church on the St Tarcisius site and a new church on a new site. Advice regarding costs, options, valuations and likely planning approvals was taken from Waterfords, London Clancy and Day Tanner Architects. We obtained sketches and broad cost estimates of possible development options for the SPJ and ST sites. Full details and copies of the sketches are available.
The plans were discussed and compared in detail with the criteria listed above and they were ranked in the order of their attractiveness in meeting the criteria. The group decided that the preference was:
1. A new large modern church on a new site (if a suitable site can be found).
2. A new church complex on the SPJ site
3. An extended church with redeveloped parish room on the ST site
The best option is a new church on a new large site. This is dependent on such a site becoming available in a suitable location within our timescale and budget. The second choice was clearly to demolish and rebuild on the SPJ site. This option was ranked as more attractive than a redeveloped ST site on all the first six criteria.
Conclusion and next steps
The steering group believes that a single large church will offer greater capacity, a strong image in the community and the ability to build an active and cohesive parish community. The group recommends that building a large modern church complex on a new site is the best option provided that a suitable site can be found and planning permission can be obtained. A good alternative choice is to redevelop the SPJ site in order to build a new, large church and parish facilities. A consequence of building the single church is that the church of Christ the King site is sold. The St Tarcisius church can be retained for some interim period but the long-term intention is that it is sold. This church is a listed building and a war memorial so getting a re-assignation of its use would be difficult but not impossible.
The next steps are to gather feedback for the strategy and to investigate questions raised by parishioners. We should discuss our plans with Our Lady Queen of Heaven parish. We also need to gain diocesan approval. After that we should search for a new site, develop a funding plan and set up a project committee.
Finally it should be said that the steering group understands that its recommendations entail the closing of churches which are loved by many parishioners, have associations that go back many years and offer convenient local places of worship. This is bound to be unpopular with some parishioners. However, we remain convinced that a single church represents the best choice for future Catholics in Camberley and Bagshot.
FROM THE PARISH PRIEST
The parish is presently considering the above Report which was tasked by myself and the Parish Finance Committee to examine the best way ahead for the parish.
The Steering Group made an initial report to the Parish Finance Committee (PFC), the Pastoral Action Group (PAG) and C&B Liturgy Group all meeting in joint session on Thursday 28 August. The committees went on to discuss the report at greater depth at their various meetings in October and November.
Open Parish Meetings were held at St Tarcisius Church on Monday 16 November and at the Church of Christ the King on Tuesday 17 November . On both evenings a report presentation was given to well attended meetings.
The next stage is for parish to 'digest' the report through discussion of its findings.
Mgr B R Madders
Steering Group 11
The new Steering Group to take forward planning for the future had its initial meeting at Bell Place at 8pm on Thursday 30 September. Dr John Guy is chair the group. Other members include: Chris Pedley, Michelle Vandenberg, Martin Hanson, Yemisi Idicula, Martin Taylor, Sean Doyle (PFC), Julian Oliver (Chair PFC), Mirek Glinieki (ex officio – Chair Governors St Augustine’s), Tony Fitzgerald (ex officio - Parish Treasurer).