A New Vision for St John’s

What is the current situation ?

  • St John’s has a declining congregation which cannot sustain the increasing running costs of the church building.
  • The church has a core location within the community and is one of only a few public spaces in the Penzance East ward.
  • The children’s soft play area (the Playzone) has been running for 10 years and has firmly established itself within the local community and its usage has helped to towards paying the church utility bills

What could the future look like ?

  • The challenges faced by St John’s PCC include increasing energy and maintenance bills with a vastly
    reduced number of traditional church uses (services, weddings, funerals)
  • Future planning needs to consider the upkeep of the building whilst providing services to the community
    for both current and new users.
  • The aim would be to create a “safe” space for a wide range of users and visitors. This could be considered
    to be the main purpose of a church in the modern world.

Mock up image of Sensory Pod

Examples of proposed equipment

Bubble tubes
Digital cloud
Tactile activity panel

Evidence of Need

Young people

  • Feedback from Nancealverne School and their People’s Parliament identified the need for a dedicated space in Penzance accessible outside of school hours to provide amenities and equipment for a range of ages and special needs.
  • The playzone is already popular with Nancealverne students and is considered a fun place.
  • Feedback from parents and carers of special needs children revealed that places for children to play with others and to feel part of the community are non-existent in the area.
  • Parents would welcome a safe space where their children could dysregulate without being judged.
  • Carers would also welcome a space where they could relax and be with other adults whilst their children were occupied.

Older people

  • Feedback from the Sensory Trust who run support groups for people living with dementia also identified a lack of spaces in the Penzance area which were able to provide facilities for their clients.
  • The sensory pod and church could provide equipment and seating suitable for older people and also include videos, music and ‘memory boxes’


We need to consider the practicalities of opening up the church to the new uses including

  • Accessibility including wheelchair ramps
  • Accessible toilets in the main church building
  • A new kitchen area designed to be used by people with a range of abilities
  • Design the floor space to be as flexible as possible to encompass both church services and community activities
  • Heating – the church is already looking at the HALO system which can be directed to specific areas of the church and is much more efficient than the current heating system


Initial estimates.

Sensory pod£10,000

Outdoor space

In conjunction with developing the inside of the church we would like to develop the outside space by providing a community garden.

This would include

  • Fencing around with garden area with a secure gated entrance
  • Wheelchair accessible paths
  • Raised beds
  • Suitable seating

Working with local groups such as Growing Links, Night Church and Man Down the intention would be to grow fruit and vegetables for use by the community.

Estimated costs – £10,000

Next steps

PCC to agree the proposalMarch 2024
Apply for the faculty for the sensory podApril 2024
Obtain estimates for the building workJune 2024
Obtain funding for the projectDecember 2024
Tender for the building workJanuary 2025
New facilities openJune 2025
For further information please contact Kate Picknett at kate@picknett.com

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