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St Mary’s Church Project –Development planning works about to start.

The Totnes Heritage Trust in partnership with the local parochial church council is planning to start the development planning phase of the St Mary’s Church Project in the next few weeks.

Why are works required to St Mary’s?

The building is urgently in need of repair and is on Historic England’s ‘At risk’ register. The Victorian floor tiles are breaking up, and the pews are on a timber platform built over shifting Victorian rubble.

A recent architect’s report states: ‘It is now essential that the nettle of major works is grasped …the tiled floor repairs have been deemed most urgent since 2004….. It is my advice that the proper repair of the building can only be addressed with a programme of very substantial works, and it is appropriate that these should be considered along with changes to make the building more sustainable.

The Victorian floor is collapsing as the substrata has not stood the test of time. Without major intervention, it could become uninsurable for public access. As the decay progresses, St Mary’s appears run down. Ultimately, the flooring issue could bring about closure. Thus the floor requires urgent attention.

The heating system is inadequate. It is aged, environmentally poor and frequently fails, preventing many winter activities. The logical and cost-effective time to address it is whilst the floor is being renewed. The trust will be investigating the best environmental options during the development stage.

The current pews are inherently inflexible and restrict the number of activities that can take place within the church. During the development stage the trust will be looking at various seating options that will enable the church to be used for a full range of community activities all year round in a comfortable environment.

Public consultations on the changes required in the church have taken place and there is universal support for the need for sympathetic change and enhancements that would bring better facilities to enable more use and improved accessibility together with a much need community facility in the centre of our town.

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