The Story So Far


Why Change?

Back in 2009 as a Parish we engaged in a consultation exercise to consider what we might need to do to keep our work and worship relevant in the twenty first century.

You can read the summary of the responses here, which includes parishioners’ views about what aspects of the existing building they treasure, and what aspects they would like to see improved.

You can also read about some of the key drivers in this sermon preached by the Rector Simon Doogan in November 2013.

Restoration Subcommittee

In 2011 the vestry formed the Restoration subcommittee, comprised partly of vestry members and partly of other parishioners with particular areas of interest and expertise, some serving only at the beginning of the process, and some continuing all the way through. Every effort was made to include a broad range of outlooks and opinions with some people going back several decades in terms of their love of St Columbanus and others joining the parish much more recently. Our thanks, in alphabetical order, go to:Stephen Baird, Ian Bell, Ann Browne, Richard Gillan, Geoff Hewitt, Margaret Magee, Christine Rankin, Patricia Robinson, Jonnie Stockton, alongside Canon Simon Doogan and Rev Alistair Morrison.

Early on the group made visits to other recently restored churches: St Thomas’s Lisburn Road, Willowfield Parish Church and Donaghadee, and continues to meet regularly to progress the project.

Level Survey–Spring 2012

This was required to establish what could be done on our site in terms of the ground levels and foundations, and confirmed that a building project was indeed feasible. This cost approximately £1000 which was paid for by an anonymous gift.

Three Key Decisions – Spring 2012

  1. Do we want to connect the Church building and Parish Centre? Yes

  2. Do we want a Church which can more readily and flexibly be used? Yes

  3. Do we want to rotate the Church building 90 degrees? No

Four Guiding Principles Established – Spring 2012

  1. Preserve the atmosphere of a beautiful, sacred building that feels like a church.

  2. Make access, welcome and hospitality priorities rather than afterthoughts.

  3. Create a worship space which is flexible for large and small congregations.

  4. Minimise clutter and create holy space.

 Feasibility Study – Spring 2013

This was required to establish whether more or less what we wanted in terms of our design needs was physically possible and roughly how much it would cost. The outcome was the twofold proposal of enhancing the existing church building and providing a new section of building linking it to the church hall.

This cost approximately £5000 which was paid for by an anonymous gift.

Overall budget agreed – September 2013

The vestry set the overall budget at £1.25 million, which included 10% to be given as gifts to designated good causes.

Appointment of Architect – September 2013 – September 2014

This was a two stage process handled by the people shown below involving

  1. Preliminary 2012 subcommittee Completion of a Pre–qualification Questionnaire which was submitted by each of the 9 architecture firms who expressed an interest in undertaking the work. These were assessed by the preliminary 2012 subcommittee who shortlisted 4 of the firms to progress to the next stage.

  2. Architect Appointment subcommitteeThese 4 firms then completed a comprehensive design scheme proposal based on the Parish design brief and tendered their professional fees for the project. Subsequent to their presentations on 23 September 2014 the firm of Knox and Maxwell were chosen.

Presentation of Plans to the Parish – 6 January 2015

The proposed restoration plans were presented to the Parish at open meetings and a number of comments were received, which the architects subsequently sought to incorporate within the plans.

During 2015 funding for the restoration work got under way, and plans were finalised and submitted, with an envisaged start date of January 2016.

Delay and Reassessment – December 2015 – February 2016

For a number of reasons – planning approval not finalised, budget considerations and issues with the NIE Substation relocation – work was delayed from the start of 2016.

It was subsequently decided to split the work into 2 phases

Work begins – May 2016

Work began on phase 1 of the restoration work early in May 2016.

Our first church service at our temporary home of St Columbanus College was held on Sunday 1 May.