Edge Hill, London SW19 4LU
Tel.: 020 8946 0305
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The parish halls complex comprises 4 spaces within one building: the Upper Hall, licensed for 340 people; plus the Lounge, the Lower Hall and Youth Meeting room, providing smaller, more intimate and even more popular alternatives for a wide variety of functions and users. The complex was built in the 1960s from funds raised by parishioners and is therefore now formally owned by the RC Diocese of Southwark, Registered Charity Number 235468.
The Upper Hall in particular is now one of the largest available within the London Borough of Merton, but all are widely used, not just by Parish organisations, many of which are open to other churches and other users, but also by local schools and Merton wide charities.
The Site, Constraints and Consultations
The halls are sited above the church on the 1:10 slope of the adjacent Edge Hill. All 4 spaces are at different levels, while the reception level of the Presbytery, built behind the halls in the 1970s but linked to them, is different again. Providing effective disabled access to all 5 spaces is therefore a challenge and we began by commissioning Copping Lindsay Architects to carry out a detailed feasibility study in 2004.
Early consultations within the Parish confirmed the need for simple, staged solutions with the minimum loss of car parking spaces; while in later more detailed discussions with disabled people it was agreed that we should also avoid the unnecessary use of machinery and opt for simple direct path entry wherever possible. This policy also accorded well with our wider aim to save energy and be environmentally aware.
In addition these steps coincided with consideration of the Pastoral Plan 2002-2007 which, within an overarching need “to become a more open, inclusive, welcoming community” identified the care and nurturing of young people as a first priority. The appointment of a full time Youth Minister followed and with a generous grant and even more generous loans from the Society of Jesus, we were able to commission designs in late 2005 for the conversion of underused cloakroom space within the Upper Hall to provide specific accommodation for young people, allied with the first stage of disabled access to those spaces. A contract for this work was subsequently placed in July 2006 for completion by the end of the year.
Contract Development, Later Stages and Costs
While the first contract was under way the parish also launched a major Funding Appeal and as the first donations were received, designs were commissioned to provide full disabled access to all four spaces. In addition prices, working methods and programmes were negotiated with the contractor to provide firm information for progress and planning. Inter alia these showed the need to defer finishing the ramp and podium in front of the main hall in order to allow access for contractor’s plant along the North side of the complex for later work. Meanwhile the interior work for the Youth Minister was completed and handed over in January 2007.
Overall the work is now divided into 4 phases:
Phase I in total covers the conversion of the former Gentlemen’s Cloakroom and toilet space into an office for the Youth Minister and meeting space for young people. It has its own entrance and disabled toilet with ramped access from the regraded area and podium in front of the Upper Hall, which also gives access to the first reception level within the hall itself. The work includes the reprovision of the Gentlemen’s toilet within part of the space formerly used as a ladies cloakroom and the construction externally of a new Refuse Store. The total cost including VAT on part of the internal conversion is £317,410.
Phase II covers all the remaining works needed to convert the Upper Hall to full disabled use, including widening and fire proofing the doors into the hall, the installation of a short stair lift for the 6 steps up to this level, the conversion of the ladies toilet and construction of a new disabled toilet, plus the refuges for emergency use at each exit and supporting works such as the new fire exit door onto the balcony and the change of hatch at the servery to a fireproof one. In addition we have taken the opportunity to repaint the hall, renovate and re-polish the floor and to rewire and revise the lighting using modern fittings, thereby reducing the installed lighting load from 8.5 KW to 1.68 KW. For this the estimated cost totals £276,500.
Phase III extends the Phase I ramp to the youth spaces and the retaining wall alongside it to go past the Lounge exit with a loop back to it to achieve a correctly graded ramp into the Lounge itself. Some related changes to the external drains are also included together with a new level path along the top of the bank, ending in a small patio and new entrance door into the ground floor of the presbytery. The extension of the retaining wall involves the use of mini bored piles which also help to correct errors in the construction of the original retaining wall. The new ramps and new path with all the railings required, brings the overall cost of this phase to a current estimate of £246,142.
Phase IV then covers the internal works needed to provide a disabled toilet to serve the Lounge, together with a safe refuge for emergency use at the top of the front access stairs, plus the disabled toilet for the Lower Hall. For this the current estimate is £207,363 of which some £54,000 is for the changes to the Lower Hall toilets, with the balance covering the work in the lounge. The latter unfortunately includes the extra cost of correcting errors in the original construction which omitted any damp proofing at the rear entrance and in the floor and walls of the adjacent lobby.
Phases II, III, & IV are VAT free and as a result it will be seen from the above that the total cost of all this work is £1,047,474. Much of this has been covered by the general funds contributed to our Capital Appeal that is excluding money specifically donated for work on the church and to the organ. However we have also benefited from two generous loans totalling £245,000 from the Society of Jesus and from donations from various charities including a most helpful gift of £47,000 provided by the City Bridge Trust, used to provide disabled toilet facilities in the Lower Hall. So we have been most fortunate and able to complete all the work to a decent standard and to re-open all the halls by May 2008.