Significant steps made in St Leonards church plans

St John's Church on Old Church Road are undergoing the first major renovations for 150 years, starting with new paths which never get muddy.
St John's Church on Old Church Road are undergoing the first major renovations for 150 years, starting with new paths which never get muddy.

Ongoing renovations look set to breathe new life into a church approaching its 150th anniversary.

Refurbishment to the outside and entrance of St John’s Church is approaching completion, marking the first step in plans for a series of improvements.

Situated on Upper Church Road, St Leonards, residents have seen few changes to the building over the years. However, progress can now be seen in external works to the church.

The Rev Luke Dean said: “On the inside of the church a warm welcome has always been offered, these exterior works will make the outside of the building appear equally inviting.”

Improvements include a refurbishment of the pathways, outside lighting and a glass internal door – ‘stuff that should have been done years ago’ as Mr Dean put it.

It is hoped the new resin-surfaced pathways in particular will be much safer for visitors in wet weather and mark a visible improvement to the exterior.

Managing director of SUDwell Roy Potter, which is undertaking the work, said: ‘This 18th century church is surrounded by well-manicured gardens, so it was imperative we bring a new concept with thought and consideration for the overall appearance.

“Resin Driveways is proud to have been requested to undertake this project for the community.”

The refurbishment already seems to have strong support from parishioners and residents. Generous legacies and donations have fully funded the work which church members, Chartered Architects RDP and Resin Driveways have all collaborated on so far.

It has taken about two years to get to this point, but Mr Dean suggests the best is yet to come. He describes the work as a ‘small but exciting step towards the long term plan to modernise the whole facility’.

The church which is almost 150 years old has no kitchen or accessible toilets.

Mr Dean said providing these is ‘the next step with some urgency’ for the church.

Without such facilities, St John’s is unable to cater for both the elderly and very young in attendance.

“Three sets of architects have drawn up plans for a long-term vision,” said Mr Dean.

He added future works are likely to occur on the north side of the church, while he doesn’t envisage much future change for the south side which is currently being worked on.

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