Village church to be turned into community hub after Essex Environment Trust funding

A VILLAGE without a school, pub, hall or shops is to get a new ‘community hub’ after more funding for the �150,000 project was put in place.

Bush End, Takeley, has few amenities except its church – and that is to get a new lease of life with an upgrade and installation of improved facilities.

More than �100,000 has been raised towards the funds needed to turn St John’s Church into a focal point of the village – for both church and community use for future generations.

A further �11,500 awarded by the Essex Environment Trust, announced on Friday, comes as a timely boost that could see work begin on the scheme early in 2012.

Honorary treasurer David Robson said: “We are absolutely delighted to get this money. It means we can make the church a centre of the community – a place for everyone.”

The project got off to a good start following a �25,000 grant from Viridor Environmental Services. But to get work started, the church needs �110,000 and is just �4,000 short of reaching that target.

Mr Robson said the church, opposite Hatfield Forest, was built in 1856 and very little had been done to modernise it.

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Planned improvements include the installation of toilets, disabled access and a kitchenette, as well as repairs to stonework and stained-glass windows.

Senior warden Rupert Gosling said: “We like to think of this as getting the church ready for the next 150 years, bringing it up to date so it can be enjoyed by future generations.

“What we are hoping for is to open up the building for the wider use of the community and see it become a centre for the people.”

Plans and designs have been drawn up by Radwinter-based architects Kay Pilsbury Thomas and are on display at the back of the church.

It is hoped the four-month building project will begin in the New Year. The church will then be able to host events such as concerts, seasonal festivals, exhibitions and fairs.

The announcement of the most recent grant was made in the November meeting of the Essex Environment Trust and was part of a �155,139 funding package to be shared between a dozen projects across the county.

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