Summary = Restoration, refurbishment and a new build basement level extension

Value = approximately £1,100,000

Location = Stoke Newington

Challenge = Limited access and limited space for storing materials

The restoration, refurbishment and a new build basement level extension to Newington Green Meeting House in north London is well underway. The £1.1 million project started February 2019, and is on track to meet the project deadline of February 2020.

Built in 1708 the Grade II listed Newington Green Unitarian Church is one of England's oldest Unitarian churches. It has had strong ties to political radicalism for over 300 years and is known as the “Birthplace of Feminism” due to its connections to activist and writer Mary Wollstonecraft. The Dissenters, a group that campaigned for religious freedom, social reform and the abolition of slavery, also used the Meeting House.

A grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has given the Meeting House the opportunity to future-proof and preserve its iconic heritage legacy. The project will provide a new visitor centre to enable local schoolchildren, researchers and community groups to make the most of the building’s rich heritage.

Bakers are also restoring the Schoolroom and constructing a basement to accommodate facilities including a meeting room, three w/c, a plantroom and lift shaft going from basement level to the first floor. To construct the basement, Bakers have excavated 4m deep, formed a new steel reinforced slab, carried out underpinning and structural steel works to support the ground floor walls. An underground drainage and tanking system were installed to the basement level as well as a ducting and airflow system.

As part of the restoration works the existing external render will be removed to enable localised brick repair, before new render is applied. Roof repairs will take place and a new roof light installed within the apse roof (a semi-circular recess at the end of the chapel). A new raised entrance ramp and reception area into the chapel will be formed.

An M&E package includes a new heating system with a BMS (building management system), lighting, data, an access control system, CCTV, intruder alarm, fire alarm, small power and ventilation.

The extensive AV package will enable live streaming of services, a speakers system designed for events and concerts and a projection system.

The entrance into church is temporarily at the back of the building whilst works continue. The front of the church is restricted to site access only by using ply hoarding and pedestrian barriers. Internally the work areas are sheeted up and alternative routes made to channel visitors and staff to the site office and segregate works from other areas. There is a separate compound for storing materials and a site office has been located within the limited space available.