Ebenezer Chapel is a former Methodist Church in Prudhoe, Northumberland, England. The chapel has remained an essential part of the town's heritage even after its closure in 2015. Prudhoe Community Partnership (PCP) and Karbon Homes recognised the potential of the building to serve as affordable housing for the local community.
The organisations collaborated to convert the chapel into five flats, with four two-bedroom flats and one wheelchair-accessible one-bedroom flat. The project involves restoring the original building's features, constructing an extension, and landscaping the surrounding area.
The collaboration between PCP and Karbon Homes enabled the organisations to use their collective expertise to create an attractive and functional housing option for residents. The project also contributes to sustainable development by repurposing the former chapel, minimising the need for new builds on undeveloped land.
The project team wanted to ensure that the converted flats met the needs and expectations of the local community while maintaining a reasonable level of support.
What was done
To ensure the success of their project, Prudhoe Community Partnership recognised the importance of engaging with the local community and gathering feedback from stakeholders.
With assistance from PlaceChangers, they generated a programme of consultation encompassing both a two-week in-person exhibition at a local community centre and interactive consultation on the PlaceChangers platform.
The consultation process included an in-person exhibition at the local community centre, where volunteers engaged with residents and provided information about the project. Additionally, an interactive consultation was set up using PlaceChangers' proposal mapping editor, allowing stakeholders to visualise proposed changes to the building and its surrounding spaces (including changed walkways and parking).
The consultation was made more accessible by PlaceChangers' personalised postcard mail outs, which directed residents to the online consultation and in-person events at the community centre. The mailout linked to the interactive consultation and informed of in-person events at the local community centre.
The consultation process proved highly successful, with an impressive 46% open rate and a 25% response rate from nearby residents, much higher than typical planning consultations. Of the 120 visitors to the consultation, 31 residents responded, and an overwhelming 92% of respondents supported the proposals.
Ideas on map
Notably, residents chose to respond online, despite the availability of face-to-face events in a local community hall. Residents rated the engagement experience highly, with one noting they were “very satisfied with the consultation platform.”
Prudhoe Community Partnership and Karbon Homes achieved their consultation objectives:
- The architect received a well-rounded set of feedback for preparing an engagement report for planning statements.
- The consultation process also ensured that residents understood how the building and proposed changes to walkways, parking, and open space would function.
- The client gained valuable insights into the history of flooding and feedback on the accommodation size of the disabled home property, providing crucial information for an investigation.
Overall, the collaborative effort between Prudhoe Community Partnership, the architect, and PlaceChangers resulted in a successful and efficient consultation process, with valuable feedback received from the community. The project team used this feedback to improve the proposal and ensure that the converted flats met the needs and expectations of the local community.
Prudhoe Community Partnership
"The consultation process was incredibly efficient and effective, and we were impressed by the ease of collecting anonymous feedback from a broad range of stakeholders. We highly recommend this method for future projects."
"As the project architect, it was nice to see positive comments. Typically consultations draw out people with a negative perception. The interactive consultation on PlaceChangers was convenient and provided a broader range of responses."