Church Extension - Trinity Centre, Hazlemere

Trinity Centre, Hazelemere – Church reordering and extension

Allen Associates has designed and completed the extension and reordering project for Holy Trinity Church, Hazlemere. The Neo-Romanesque church building and worship space was reordered to support modern and traditional music styles, and accessible audio visual tech. We created a modern welcoming entrance area, coffee shop, lounge and offices in the extension.

Planning Consent

There was strong planning and heritage support for the principle of extending the building in a modern manner. But, for the diocesan heritage authority the details of how this could be done remained a difficult issue. We explored several options to provide the space that the church and community needed. while following the agreed heritage principles. We designed the scheme around two aspects to enable the robust existing architecture to be seen in the context of the modern building. Firstly, to have a glass filled gap between the extension and the original church. So that the two appeared not to touch. Secondly, to make the entrance to the building transparent. So that the modern extension did not obscure the original building.

  • Church Extension - Trinity Centre, Hazlemere
    Trinity Centre, Hazlemere. The extension to the church was designed to be transparent and welcoming.


The existing cramped offices were knocked down. Then the new extension, The Trinity Centre, built a Lounge, Atrium Café and multipurpose rooms. We redesigned the former entrance into new offices for church staff.

The café is an ideal space for people of all ages to enjoy the locally roasted coffee and home-made food. We designed this to provide the chance for the diners to connect with others. To do this, we brought our hospitality expertise to play on the this church reordering project.  Adjacent to the café is the lounge, a calmer space with rooms for offices, counselling and smaller meetings.

Finally, the area between the building and the road has been completely re-landscaped to include a large terrace area.

Now the church can provide improved facilities for its community. Local groups are now able to use the spaces. With the church better able serve the people of Hazlemere.

New church design - City Church Chelmsford - Allen Associates

New Church, Old Building – City Church Chelmsford

City Church Chelmsford is a church plant from Danbury Mission Church. Based on our previous work for Danbury, we were asked to prepare a feasibility study for a  new church in an existing locally listed warehouse and restaurant. Following this we completed the design to submit the planning application.

A new church community, a new church design


Having worked closely with Danbury Mission in the past, they knew that we would share their vision for the new church. ‘To share the life-changing good news about Jesus with people from every background and to make disciples who follow him through every stage of life’. Further, that we would understand how to design a building that would serve and support their vision.

So it was key for us to listen to the church. To understand what they required to help them make critical decisions about the acquiring the property.

  • Would the historic warehouse building be suitable for the church to meet and worship?
  • Could the church’s community activities fit in the existing restaurant space?
  • What would it cost to make these changes to the building?

Then, with the church, we imagined several options to transform the building from disuse, to being a hub of the growing community of Chelmsford. The brief included the following important points:

  • The main worship space needs to enable people to be active in praise and worship, in contemporary and traditional styles.
  • People need to see what is happening on the stage and to feel part of a body of people together.
  • All while being good neighbours to the residents of surrounding properties.
  • To have a worship space that can be all the above and also support community use and be visible from the other community spaces, like the Hudson’s café


City Church Chelmsford is a group of people committed to having a heart for God, one another and for Chelmsford. So bringing the Hudson Coffee branded café to Chelmsford is a crucial part of the project. The project is in the city centre next to the Aspyre and Wharf Road new residential developments. So by drawing on the practice’s strength in hospitality design we worked with the church to sketch up an initial design.

Simple design

A key challenge was to take all of these complex elements to create a church design that enables all the client needs and wants. But also within budget and achievable within the planning and property requirements.

Modern church design in a locally listed building

  • New church design - City Church Chelmsford - Allen Associates
    City Church Chelmsford. Proposed church entrance and café from the canal basin quay

Technical aspects of design and managing the process

To answer the questions regarding the feasibility of using these disused buildings a church, we brought together a team of specialist engineers and consultants. So we could focus on providing the right advice to support the church. Within Allen Associates; Ralph Allen, designer of Danbury Mission, led the team; David Spencer, our new Associate Architect worked on the plans, 3d design and the constraints of the very low ceiling.

The team drew on their technical skills and experience of, feasibility studies, ecclesiastical design, conversion projects, and heritage buildings.

We led the consultant team to analyse the design options against the constraints presented by the existing buildings and site. The summary of our conclusions are below:

  • A huge constraint was the height of the ceiling in the restaurant part of the existing building. As the ceiling had been lowered, previously, to convert the first floor of the building to residential use. After a detailed measured survey by the AA team and several sketch designs, we concluded that it would be feasible to accommodate all the key briefing requirements identified by the church. A key design principle was to maximise the ceiling height. So a service spine runs at high level through the middle of the unit from the plant room. Next to this spine, lower spaces like toilets and stores allow the services to feed the main spaces.
  • It is important to prevent noise generated within the building disturbing the occupants of the surrounding residential properties. So the acoustic engineer (Suono) advised what noise control measures would be required.
  • There is not the height to introduce suspended ceilings below the existing fire resistant ceiling. Thus the services engineer (Environmental Engineering Partnership) prepared initial designs for the ventilation of the main space and the distribution of services within the ancillary areas.
  • The structural engineer (AKS Ward) commented on the increased loading on the roof structure of the warehouse building. This ensured that the additional loads from plant and necessary to increase the acoustic performance of the roof could be accommodated.
  • The quantity surveyor (Synergy) prepared a very detailed cost estimate.

The feasibility study drew together the advice of the whole team. It concluded that, yes, this building would be a suitable base for City Church Chelmsford. But only if church accepted of the limitations of the low ceiling in the existing restaurant space.

Planning process

To support the church’s process in negotiating the purchase of the building, we continued to develop the preferred design option to enable a planning application. This drew on the expertise of the team with the addition of planning consultant, ET Planning.

AA created the application scheme, including the heritage strategy. This was to conserve specific elements of the existing building while changing its use to a worship space. We prepared the heritage statement for the planning submission. This provided the historical context to the project and assessed the impact on the heritage asset.

It was important in planning and urban design terms that the café provides activity on the canal basin quay. So we moved the café closer to the entrance and along the side of the building facing the basin.

We join the church in giving thanks that the scheme has achieved planning consent. Now we are looking forward to the next stages of the this exciting project.

External view of the completed scheme

Listed Barn Refurb for Church & Community

Christ Church Abingdon, Listed Barn Refurbishment

Allen Associates designed the restoration and opening up of two adjacent derelict rubble wall listed barns with ancient timber framed roofs.

We reconfigured the smaller barn to have two mezzanine floors, it is now the home of the community coffee shop which is run on a commercial basis.

The larger barn has been restored as a single large space providing flexibility of use including, community use, worship in various styles and has contemporary audio, visual and lighting systems.

“We want to invest in and support our community, that is why we are renovating an ancient space to create something new, to make a place of life and resource for the whole area.”   Vicar Tim Davis

Christ Church Abingdon Website

Back to Heritage Projects

Back to Church Projects

Thames Hospice, Windsor

The Sanctuary – New Design for Hospice

The Sanctuary is a new dedicated indoor and outdoor area built within the grounds of Thames Hospice in Windsor. This unique spiritual area gives visitors somewhere to reflect or to simply have some peace away from the Inpatient Unit.


To provide a new entrance to the hospice for individuals as well as an entrance for ambulances together with additional counselling rooms whilst the hospice continued to operate 24 hours a day everyday.  The existing 18th century lodge became the main entrance allowing views through the new modern yet comfortable entrance area into the internal courtyard, with a sympathetic extension accommodating the new counselling rooms and ambulance entrance.




Danbury Mission – An Inspirational Church Building

The basis of the brief was to design a building with an auditorium to accommodate a congregation of 450 people and an overflow to seat a further 80 people. In addition a total of eighteen other spaces to accommodate youth, community work and the growing church staff. A specific requirement was that the frontage  of the building facing the main road should have a high degree of transparency to provide a welcoming environment for the community.

Cheddar Valley Garden Centre

Oustanding Garden Centre Design

Following the successful refurbishment of a 200 seater restaurant at Lechlade Garden Centre we were appointed to develop a new garden centre with 200 seater restaurant, play area, pet area, fish area and extensive car park and overflow car park on a derelict site in Cheddar.

The challenge to ensure that our design was thoroughly coordinated with the numerous specialists and completed ready to open to the public in 6 months.


Thatcham United Reformed Church

The phased modernisation and conversion of a Chapel and adjacent Hall located in a conservation area.

Phase 1 comprised complete refurbishment and alteration to the ancillary accommodation providing new meeting rooms, offices, kitchen and toilets with rationalised circulation.

Phase 2 comprised the provision of a new glazed entrance area located between the Chapel and the Hall providing an open more inviting entrance from the street and further rationalising the internal circulation.

St Michaels, Warfield

Enhancing Historical Church Buildings

To extend a timber framed listed building within the setting of a listed church located in the green belt. To persuade English Heritage and the Planning Authority against their general presumption that the building should only be extended in a linear form, which would not meet the clients requirements of forming a more welcoming entrance, additional ancillary accommodation and fulfil the current Equalities Act requirements.

After much negotiation we developed a simple, well detailed glazed oak and stainless steel framed building allowing the existing building to be seen through the new extension.

From this project we were then instructed to update the front entrance and some of the internal aspects of the sanctuary providing a light welcoming space, removal of the pews provided seating maximising the space for the congregation, updated lighting