Description of the Project, why it is happening and clarifying some common misconceptions

The ProjectOur project has a number of aims – the first is to regenerate All Saints Langport so that it is an appropriate space for new uses – this makes the project fairly special and unusual because not a lot of people take on that challenge within a grade 1 listed building.  Secondly, our project aims to empower young people with skills, knowledge and networks, so that they have ultimate responsibility over the grade 1 listed building – this makes the project unique. There are other regeneration projects where young people are involved at low levels, but this is the only one in the country led and managed by people under the age of 25.  The project is being lead in partnership with the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), who are the leading national charity, caring for historic churches around the country.  All Saints Langport is one of a portfolio of 340 other closed church buildings that the CCT cares for.

There are a number of reasons that we’ve developed this project.  All Saints Langport is a special building to many local people and ‘churchhoppers’, and it’s used occasionally for services and meetings, but this support and these activities aren’t enough to keep the building in a high-quality state of repair and opened regularly for as wide an audience as possible.  Other regeneration projects undertaken by the CCT have seen churches transformed from chronically closed, dangerous buildings into award winning national centres, leading the field in their chosen new uses, and with high quality, sensitive twenty first century design and architecture.  The other regeneration projects so far have also seen a marked positive effect on the surrounding environment and community.

The ProjectThe decision to have the project led and managed by young people was to highlight and address a national issue within the heritage sector – friends groups and interest groups are getting older, without much success in recruiting younger members to take this place.  Our project will work as a model for other heritage intitiatives to follow in our footsteps, by young people taking an interest in heritage, gaining and developing useful career skills, and becoming empowered to make crucial decisions about a valuable piece of Britain’s history.

Whilst our young people hold the power to make these decisions, they still have to ascribe to rules, regulations and laws set out by bodies such as English Heritage and the DCMS, in the same way that any project not being lead by young people would be.  When we say that young people are the ultimate decision-makers on this project, this should be taken to mean ‘within these parameters’.  One of the strong advantages of the New Saints working in partnership with the CCT is that the CCT have decades of experience, training, understanding and knowledge of working with historic buildings and regeneration projects.  We will be utilising this partnership to its’ fullest extent.

We try and promote working with other young people as much as possible, but sometimes it’s best for the building if we work in partnership with people who have good experience and knowledge.  For this reason, the project works with some +25yr old consultants and experts, most of whom are working in a local capacity, in a variety of areas for the project.

The end result of our project is to have All Saints Langport valued universally, not just by particular sectors of the community and visiting tourists.  For this reason, we really want to hear your opinions and ideas and ideas for the future of the building – for example, what’s missing in the town at the moment, what do you think would be an acceptable new use for this special building and what concerns do you have about the future of the building. We are still collecting memories for our online archive, we are always accepting more from people all the time.

We will try our hardest to reach everyone to offer a view on the buildings, but ultimately, if you don’t speak to us, we can’t register your view.

Whilst we are a group of young people, All Saints is a building built with a religious purpose; we’re not a Christian group. The project is designed so that the new uses for the building can appeal to the broadest range of the community possible – that means any age and any background.  To comply with our own aims, this also means that we won’t be restricting or removing any religious application that the building can have.  The project will not result in the deconsecration of the building, nor will it hinder the use of the building for worship.

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