Thursday, February 20, 2020

News: Re-imagining a Rotherham retail unit

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A prominent unit at Rotherham market could be in line for a new lease of life if plans are approved to create something unique in Rotherham town centre.

35 Howard Street was advertised to let by Rotherham Council back in 2018 and with the local Methodist Church forced to relinquish its premises on Talbot Lane due to dwindling numbers, plans have now been submitted for an exciting new initiative.

The proposals involve converting the large unit on the corner of Howard Street and Eastwood Lane, most recently used as a fast food outlet, to create a "Tropical" Church on the 650 sq ft ground floor – an indoor garden space with a baby changing facility, indoor water feature and fish tank. The larger 1,500 ft first floor could also be converted into memorial / museum space.

The new initiative would be something new for the church and the town. For example, it would not open on Sundays but instead open during the rest of the week when the market is at its busiest.

Supporting documents submitted with the plans explain that the vision is to "create a new type of presence for Methodism in the bustle of Rotherham Market.

"Based in a shop unit, we would be freed from the intimidating barrier entering of church building, but would still be distinctively and openly Methodist and Christian. We will choose a location in a place that thousands of people who do not yet attend our churches pass every day and create reasons for them to dwell with us.

"As a project owned by the whole circuit, we would create links with new people and, through conversation, relationship and trust, invite them to a well-suited Methodist church near their home. Eventually this may even grow into a new church community of itself.

"In a broken, hurting town, where churches are too often in the press for the wrong reasons, we reach out to offer healing and reconciliation. The Church will provide services for the lonely, will offer services to tackle social isolation and male mental health issues."

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The new space would enable the church to carry on delivering support and hosting various group meetings including bereavement support, male mental health care and toddler singing sessions.

The tropical church idea is a way of making the premises engaging for adults and children alike – a green indoor oasis similar to the Winter Gardens in Sheffield but on a smaller scale. In essence an indoor garden for those who don't have a garden.

Rev. Jo A.Siddall said in the application: "Not many churches have tried something like this, but the few that have, have discovered that people who had never entered their chapels now wanted to engage with them.

"We will never be certain it will work unless we try. We will take advice and build it up carefully step by step. If we discover that it does not work, we will change it or try something different in the same location.

"We certainly know that if we do not try bold new things we will continue to decline."

Rothbiz reported last year that the Grade II listed Talbot Lane Methodist church closed and was put up for sale following dwindling attendances. Rotherham literacy charity, Grimm & Co has plans to take on the building.

Rotherham & Dearne Valley Methodist Circuit website

Images: Google Maps

2 comments:

Mr me February 20, 2020 at 11:17 AM  

Don't think churches are seen in a bad light in this so called "broken town" think it's another sort of place of worship thats in a bad light and for good reasons. Mmm wonder which?? 🤔

Anonymous,  February 21, 2020 at 2:44 PM  

Yes, Rotherham defo as some unique "attractions" shame we don't get some things most of us would like, shops are out of question, but some quality Bars and Definitely some restraunts,as opposed to poor quality take away dishimg out un healthy poor qualite rubbish from unhygenic properties!!

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