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Abbey proceeds with development plans

Thursday, 10th December 2009

Abbey proceeds with development plans

Westminster Abbey is to take the next steps in the Dean and Chapter’s development plans, which have the purpose of improving access for visitors: establishing an education centre in the precincts; creating a cafeteria in the Cellarium, a 13th century part of the precincts; opening up the Triforium, the upper gallery of the Abbey Church itself; and building a corona above the lantern, to complete the building of the Abbey Church.

The Dean and Chapter unveiled its outline plans at a public exhibition in the Chapter House in June, and invited the public to comment on the proposals.  Following a very positive response to its plans, the Dean and Chapter has decided to move to the next design stage for the three largest projects. 

Work on creating the Education Centre in No. 1 Dean’s Yard is already moving forward quickly. Laura Arends, who has been head of education at St Paul’s Cathedral, has been appointed to a new post of Head of Education at the Abbey. No.1 Dean’s Yard will also house staff offices and staff facilities relocated from existing offices in the Cellarium, where the Abbey plans to create a new cafeteria for its million-plus visitors and worshippers.

A Project Development Board, chaired by the Receiver General, has been established to oversee the Abbey development plans, and a Project Manager, Malcolm Reading, has been appointed to take day-to-day charge of development planning. Malcolm Reading’s previous work has included project management of the substantial development work successfully completed recently at St Martin-in-the-Fields, the creation of the Supreme Court in Parliament Square, and the restoration of Christ Church Spitalfields.

The Board, which is responsible to the Dean and Chapter, will form, with the Project Manager, an effective framework for taking forward the planning of these projects, including design and fundraising, and informing and consulting the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission and the many other interested parties, including Westminster City Council.

The Dean said:

I am delighted that we have been able to move forward to the next stage in planning these exciting projects. I hope the result will be greatly to improve the visitor’s understanding and enjoyment of a visit to the Abbey. But they will only happen if we can raise the necessary funding and if we can arrive at designs which are right for the very special context of Westminster Abbey.

There really isn’t a more spectacular building to work on. It’s been one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences of my life.

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Kevin - Galleries Project Manager

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