Holy Saviour Church has begun its first stage of developments replacing the church extension with a larger two-storey extension to the existing church room.
The extension to the church will provide space for local groups to hire, as well as creating a café, debt centre and food bank resource.
The redevelopment has been made possible by money left by John Shepard – a member of the Bitterne community. Mr Shepard, who passed away in 2018 and was actively involved in church affairs, being educated at Holy Saviour Church School and attending Holy Saviour from youth. Reverend Tony Palmer, Vicar at Holy Saviour Church spoke on the generosity:
“We at Holy Saviour owe enormous thanks to this generous and dear gentleman for the substantial legacy he has left to our Church. At Holy Saviour, we are passionate about serving our local community in ways that make a real difference to their lives. There is no escaping the fact that Holy Saviour is prominently placed on the top of the hill and visible for miles around. Our dream is that Holy Saviour will be a beacon of hope, a sanctuary for those in need and a place where the whole community can gather and experience the welcome of Jesus.”
Planning permission is awaiting decision to demolish the existing parish church hall and the removal of the existing bowling green and pavilion to be replaced by fifteen houses with a new access road and car parking replacing the basketball court. These changes have caused public outcry – Rosemary Anne Lawrence, a Bitterne local spoke on the public reaction to the church’s plans:
“People weren’t really made aware of how much destruction would take place. The focal point of people’s anger was the fact they took down at the back of the church a 100-year-old yew tree and that was removed in order to make way for the development for the new church room. Coupled with that, at the front of the church up near the main door was bordered by hedge rows… When the community most effected looked at the evidence of how long those hedges have been there, so many ladies showed us wedding pictures going back to the start of the war.
People are annoyed that its not been that its not been clear what was going to go on and the attitudes of the people that are involved from the church side of things quite apparently not remotely bothered that people are concerned.”
The church has seen publics feelings towards the development on social media and Reverend Tony Palmer is reassured that the plans will better the church community:
“We’re positive that what’s going on is right and proper for the future direction of the church so to really be that resource for generations to come.”
The second stage of redevelopment is expected to begin later in the year and will focus on creating a flexible space within the current historical church building. The work will include the removal of the pews, levelling off the floor and provision of a more appropriate heating system, which will all provide a large space intended to be used for far more than just ‘conventional’ worship and on a daily basis.