The Ascension Paradise Garden & Community Space

Creating A Community Facility

Our Grade II listed Ascension Church is a fine, James Medland Taylor designed, traditional, Victorian Gothic parish church, set at the heart of Lower Broughton and the focal point of the community for over a hundred and forty years.

A century of progressively declining industries, consequent, rising unemployment and increasing poverty have left the entire locality with the classic, multiple challenges faced by deprived inner cities, with the parish of The Ascension Church raking 23rd most deprived parish out of over 12,300 across the UK. However, the whole local area has very recently undergone quite massive, wholesale demolition and new build in one of the UK's largest housing development programmes, bringing over 11,000 new people into the immediate locality.

Support for a Community Facility in Lower Broughton

Extensive, award winning community consultation carried out by the local developers, Countryside Properties, prior to the re-development of the area, highlighted that the Ascension Church was valued as the major, local landmark building and a key component of Lower Broughton's identity and history, but that the primary constraint that limited the use of this much-loved facility was that it lacked basic facilities and had poor access arrangements.

Inspired by the opportunity, The Ascension Parochial Church Council embarked upon a fund-raising programme to renovate and redevelop the church and grounds, in an effort to make the building fully fit-for-purpose.

Working Together

The Vicar of The Ascension Church and Priest-in-Charge, Canon David Wyatt, has over forty years’ mission experience initiating, managing and delivering volunteer-driven initiatives at the nearby St. Paul’s Church, Pendleton, Salford, and, given the dilapidated condition of The Ascension Church, got in touch with a friend and former colleague Tony Milroy, whose extensive background of directing and managing sustainable, self-help, grass roots solutions to run-down, inner-city and urban communities was particularly relevant. Canon Wyatt and Tony had also worked together previously on The Urban Oasis Programme in the adjacent parish of St. Paul’s, Pendleton, Salford, a rather acclaimed and very successful, community-based project, being overall National winner of the 1997 BT/WWF and 1999 Henry Ford European Conservation Awards, officially recognised as one of 100 ‘Global Best Practices’ in Community Development by UN- HABITAT in 2002 and nominated by the Office of the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister and the Centre for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) as one of only three, national ‘beacons of best practice’ in community development. This previous collaboration and proven track-record has provided an inspiration and basis for the consequent collaboration between Canon Wyatt and Tony Milroy supported by the valuable inputs of the P.C.C. and dedicated, long-standing parishioners and supporters of the church. Thus, the on-going development of the church and it's related community events and activities provides a practical exemplar demonstrating replicable, participatory ways to bring disadvantaged communities together and improve cohesion in sustainable ways.

Renovation & Redevelopment

During 2010-2013 we raised the funds for and undertook various capital projects to make the church building fully DDA accessible and install the facilities it required. Developments included:

Capital improvement works undertaken with an English Heritage/National Lottery Fund grant for major renovation works to the interior and exterior fabric of the church, new roofing and pointing.

Complete re-design, construction, replacement and renewal of boundary walls, fencing, gates, new main entrance steps, DDA access and car park, provided by generous gift funding, negotiated with Countryside Properties, the local Housing Development Company.

The installation of community catering/cafeteria facilities and DDA toilets using funds secured through grants from Sita Landfill Trust and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

These developments have transformed the previously dilapidated Ascension Church into a fully accessible place of worship, with brand new cafeteria and community facilities – a fully inclusive 'Community Space' which can be accessed by the entire local community.