Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Green first steps

A meeting this afternoon at church, with representatives of the Diocesan Advisory Committee, the Church in Wales Representative Body Properties Officer, and three of us from St John's looked for the first time at the proposal we have in mind to spend some of the revenue form the sale of St James on geothermal heating for the church. It's been an idea buzzing around in my mind for a couple of years at least, but with another steep rise in prices calling into question the economic sustainability of the church's presence at the heart of the city, and the sad if providential legacy of available funding, there is an opportunity to be explored.

Thankfully, an internet trawl came up with several companies with expertise in this area, so I emailed them on Monday. By this morning, one of them had responded with interest and a degree of cautious optimism about taking this a few steps forward with a preliminary feasibility study. I was pleased to have a reply in hand to share with the meeting, as it ensured the response wasn't just theoretical, although initially, the matter of church general policy on this matter is important, since we're wanting to spend money held in trust for the Parish, and have to make a sound case to support our proposal. Also we need support in relation to CADW, whose conservation opinions are important, since they have put money into the building before. Even though we're not asking them for funding, support from them will assist any match funding bids we may need to make.

Fortunately, the Bishops are giving a lead in encouraging green projects in relation to churches, and considerations of sustainability are becoming part of the thinking, albeit late in the day. How much better off we'd be now with fewer buildings to manage if this had happened before the 19th century rash of church building took place! If I can move St John's along the route towards being a zero carbon footprint building by the time I retire, I'll depart with a degree ofcontentment.

Our friend Artie arrived at tea time, and I met her at the station. As I had a meeting of the Council Planning committe's conservation consultative group straight after, we agreed to eat when I returned afterwards. However, the meeting went on for twice as long as usual, so Clare and Artie had eaten by the time I eventually arrived. The meeting agenda was of particular interesting due to the presentation of a building application by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on North Road. Since their link-up with the University of Glamorgan the College has secured funding to build its own concert auditorium and another performance space, on the existing site and enclosing the existing buildings.

The design phase has now produced model of the site, which is available for inspection in City Hall. Unlike earlier auditorium plans this design does not intrude into Bute Park but stays entirely on this side of the Dock Feeder Canal. That should make a lot of people happy. It's also a good use of the existing site. All consultative group members thought favourably about the design. It promises to enhance the site in a way the present buildings fail to. One can drive past and hardly notice they're there. When it's built, it will be a truly eye catching addition to Cathays Park complex of pubic buildings.

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