Milestone reached as £4.75M funding bid is submitted


2016 saw the development and submission of our £4.75m application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. On site, the focus was on securing the structure and improving the surrounding landscape. Meanwhile, the development of a virtual reality model of the building will provide exciting new opportunities for interpretation.

The last year has seen our young building preservation trust make huge strides towards securing the necessary funding for the repair and reuse of Dockyard Church. Working with a professional team (led by Simon Hawkins of Glevum Consulting) the Trust has developed a scheme for the repair and reuse of the church which forms the basis of our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a major Enterprise Grant. The business plan was produced by Jasmijn Muller of Fourth Street with input from prospective partners The London Youth Support Trust and Innov8 On Sheppey.

Our HLF application was submitted on 8 December 2016 and we will hear in March 2017 whether our bid has been successful. Should we receive a ‘pass’ the project will move up several gears as we develop the scheme in detail and raise match funding ready for delivery in 2018/19. If it goes ahead, this will be a landmark project delivering major cultural, social and economic benefits to Sheerness and the Isle of Sheppey.

Meanwhile, funding continues to arrive from other sources. We are particularly grateful to Swale Borough Council who in November pledged £70,000 towards the project.

Our HLF application (backed by a detailed viability study and a comprehensive business plan) sets out a proposal to save the building and transform it into an innovative and viable business / events centre for the local community, creating a new hybrid incubator & skills centre for local young people. In addition the building will provide a home for the unique and beautiful 19th-century model of Sheerness Dockyard – currently in the care of Historic England – and measuring 40ft square when fully assembled.

Meanwhile, with support from Historic England, our trust has completed a detailed condition survey of the building and has now submitted a separate application for urgent works to stabilise the fabric and prevent further decay. Earlier in 2016 works were carried in the portico of the building to remove loose material and secure against roosting pigeons.

The land behind the church has now been cleared of rubble and re-seeded to provide a large open space for activities and events pending the restoration of the building itself and, excitingly, the trust has taken custody (on loan) of the ‘Room’ mobile arts space – a converted shipping container which will give us a unique place venue for school groups as well as housing our artist in residence programme. We our proud to host Room and look forward to benefitting from its creative energy!

Another exciting project has been a Virtual Reality model of the church, initiated by trustee Chris Foulds and developed by Rupert Lawrence. Viewers require a headset to fully experience the model, but a preview is now available on Facebook. It is hoped that the VR model will become a key interpretation tool both for our outreach work and as part of the display of the great 1820s model once the project is complete.

Lastly, we would like to trustee Andrew Deeley, for creating this splendid new website. You can make a donation quickly and easily through the ‘Donate’ button on the homepage.

So, 2016 has been a year of development and preparation in order to secure the funding needed to secure and transform Dockyard Church. We now find ourselves poised for a great new adventure.

Needless to say we would not be in this position were it not for the the hard work and contributions of time and money from our trustees, supporters and partners. So thank you to everyone who has helped bring us this far.

William Palin
Chair, SDPT