Parish church can be made fit for 21st century needs

JPCT 190612 Billingshurst St Mary's church, Billingshurst just received permission from the diocese to go ahead with reordering inside the church. Church warden Sharon Ashborn. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 190612 Billingshurst St Mary's church, Billingshurst just received permission from the diocese to go ahead with reordering inside the church. Church warden Sharon Ashborn. Photo by Derek Martin

Billingshurst parish church was praised for its ‘impressive’ consultation as it was given permission to continue plans to renovate the inside.

Despite some opposition, St Mary’s Church, can go ahead to fundraise for improvements costing up to £600,000, which will include adding a kitchen, a toilet with disabled access and the controversial removal of some of the pews.

Considering all views chancellor of the Diocese of Chichester Mark Hill QC praised the work of the rordering team.

In his ruling he said: “For my part, I consider that the case of necessity made by the petitioners is overwhelming. The Statement of need is exemplary and the evolution of these proposals through timely and engaged consultation over a substantial period is amongst the most impressive that I have seen in more than a decade as chancellor of this Diocese.”

He added: “I reject the suggestion in certain letters of objection that there has been insufficiency of consultation or that the project is only supported by a small tightly knit group.”

Chairman of the reordering team John Woolliscroft said: “The new facilities will enable a greater community use including concerts, children’s events, meetings and festivals. Our Grade I listed church with its inflexible layout does not meet the needs of the 21st century.”

He added that there would be improved access to the town and a new floors, central heating system and flexible seating to improve access for either the disabled or young families with pushchairs.