Monday, 8 October 2012

Move Out!

This is an article that I have submitted to the next Hull calendar (Unitarian church magazine).

I think it is soon time to say thanks to Park Street as a location of the Hull Unitarian church, but it is sensible to do what they did in 1881 and move to a residential area probably well to the west near to a traffic interchange.

I am astonished that the disruptive road strengthening taking place to Park Street was not accompanied with road widening. In fact one Friday I passed workmen talking about how they could widen the road and that it would be practical and leave enough walking space.

Park Street could become a second Ferensway. Already Ferensway is regarded as dangerous for pedestrians crossing. If Park Street was to extend the 'box' that takes through traffic around Hull, the church would become more isolated, more cut off by such ever heavier traffic. I predict that it will not be long before the workers are back again widening the road.

At a time of austerity, and with a small congregation, the whole enterprise of putting on a new front to the church seems wasteful. As a means to attract more people, architectural presence seems a strange strategy. In any case, it is not the job of the church to provide architectural presence. Such presence comes at the cost of car parking, and it is only adequate due to low numbers.

It is argued that we should not update the seats until the front is done. Well it all needs a clearer, cleaner solution.

The simpler solution is to sell the building to either some other group that could use it and need a central location, or why not sell to the Leonard Chamberlain Trust for some alms houses on the site and it can use its relationship with the church to facilitate a smooth transition to another site.

In other words, before a move is made, a large house or barn conversion can be purchased and prepared, with new chairs and a church-like appearance inside, and a good sound and video system in place. We attend one Sunday at Park Street and the next Sunday move into the new home.

In a residential area the church would be more accessible. It would still be an ideological church, one that draws from all around, but it could also provide some community functions too and draw on the locality. We know that much of what we do appeals to a 40 plus clientele, but Park Street makes even this difficult and now only provides the ideological function, and is becoming ever more inaccessible alongside a busy through route. It is time to make the future more realisable through moving and allowing several potential futures.

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