In a recent opinion poll by the Churches Trust four in five (79%) of British people thought that churches and chapels are an important part of the UK’s heritage and history.  Three quarters of people (74%) said that church buildings play an important role for society by providing a space for community activities, such as playgroups, cultural and social events, and meetings. Three in five people (59%) disagree with the idea that ‘repairing and restoring historic church buildings only benefits churchgoers’.

In June 2015, and some weeks before receiving the results of a Quinquennial Inspection Report, the Church membership had already begun a series of meetings to consider its future in the Saville Street building, and to discuss whether it might be able to sustain its use in the future.

Reviewing the options

A number of options were open to the managing trustees:

  • Form a partnership with another organisation, secular or religious;
  • Review the options for increased utilisation of the building, with limited usable space
  • Invite the Ryedale Methodist Circuit to take over the managing trusteeship; or
  • Seek a sale for the building, for third time in its history.

The overriding challenge was now to develop its building to reach out to an expanding community, utilising a building open every day, and not just on Sunday. There were three key factors that the Church believed could make this possible:

  • Malton is a growing community; for the first time in more than 200 years, Malton is expanding rapidly;
  • There's a chronic dearth of usable community space in Malton; and
  • There's a need to make much better use of such an historic building in Malton, set within the heart of the community.

Community consultation

After considering what was possible with our building, the Project Team consulted with the community on its proposals in the summer of 2016, and the Wesley Centre appointed Surrey-based Action Planning to undertake this work. The results validated the core aims of the project:

  • By highlighting the unmet needs of the community in Malton
  • By testing demand for the proposal of a Community Hub in Malton, and
  • By obtaining feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the draft plans

Today, Historic England states: “Large chapels such as this have been particularly susceptible to change which makes the survival of the interior at Malton rare and of exceptional interest. As a Grade II* listed building it is placed in the top 5.5% of buildings in the country listed for their special architectural and historic interest at a national level.”