Saturday, 28 November 2009


The St John's Church Steering Group which is working on the future of the Victorian church St John's, Kates Hill took a significant step forward this week. One of the Midland region’s most prestigious architect’s practices has been approached with a view to advising the Group on feasibility and architectural matters.

Lichfield based Brownhill Hayward Brown's other work includes the £2.5 million restoration and conversion of Bilston Town Hall, the £1.5million Visitor Centre at Walsall Arboretum and they are currently Master Planners and architects for Trentham Gardens and the Trentham Estate, Staffordshire. They have a strong track record of working on community buildings and places of worship including the Bethesda Chapel, Hanley which was a runner up in the BBC's 'Restoration' programme and All Saints, Smallheath winner of the 2004 Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors President's Award.
The Archdeacon of Dudley who chairs the St John's Church Steering Group said:
"We were very impressed with the energy which BHB brought to their presentation, their track record in working with churches in communities like Kates Hill and their commitment to working in close partnership with us on this exciting project."
The Steering Group will now step up efforts to raise the necessary finance to pay for the study, estimated to cost around £10- £15,000 in addition to the £21,000 needed for essential waterproofing work and lightning conductor replacement.
They aim to appoint BHB early in 2010 who will then carry out extensive research into the future possible use of the St John's church building and consult widely with local people to identify community needs which could be met at St John's now and in the years to come.
Integral to the study will be research into whether or not it is feasible to re-open St John's for Anglican worship and identifying how to develop the building as a community facility with minimum impact on the historic nature of the building both inside and out.
Development of the grounds will also be considered along with the potential for tourism, energy efficiency and overall financial sustainability. Deb Brownlee, Chair, St John's Church Preservation Group

"We are hugely excited at the prospect of working with this dynamic company"
Professor Carl Chinn, patron of St John's Church Preservation Group

"The St John's Church Steering Group has wisely taken its time in making this most important choice. The task of finding the right professional advisers is a crucial one for a project such as this. I am pleased that the Steering Group has chosen a company which they felt most understands the complexities surrounding a church which had been closed and condemned but is now becoming reinvigorated. This is another steady step on the way back for the church to regain its rightful position as a historic and community icon not only for Kates Hill but also for the whole of the Black Country."

A public meeting of the St John's Church Steering Group, chaired by the Archdeacon, will take place on Tuesday 1st December at 6.30pm in the Parish Hall, St John's Road, Kates Hill.
Topics to be discussed include an explanation of the work of the Steering Group, the church redundancy process, listing, funding, the feasibility study and progress with re-opening the building to the public.
There will be a question and answer session followed by refreshments. Donations towards the restoration works and the feasibility study can be sent to St John's Church Preservation Group, The Old School House, St John's Road, Kates Hill, Dudley, DY2 7JT.
More information about the work of St John's Church Preservation Group and St John's Church Steering Group can be found on the website

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