APPEAL FOR FUNDS BY ST JOHN’S CHURCH MENTON
St John’s Church is a well-loved landmark in the centre of the town of Menton.
It has survived a major earthquake, a proposed demolition and most recently in 2010, subsidence caused by excavation on an adjoining building site.
We are close to completion of a 9 year project of repair and rebuild following the subsidence. We will eventually have a beautifully restored church building with a traditional interior but with modern facilities. What is more the church will have a sound financial footing, better than it has had for the last 50 years. However we need a further €100,000 to complete this project. We are therefore launching this fundraising appeal.
St John’s Menton was conceived and built for the growing British population of Menton and it opened in 1868. The church thrived as a religious and cultural focus for English speaking people based in Menton. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, worshipped there and even had his own entrance door, which is still known today as the King’s Door. Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill are believed to have worshipped there.
Earthquake damage in 1887 was repaired. A proposal was made to demolish for residential development but in 1992 the residents of Menton objected so strongly that the plan was dropped. The French residents had taken the beautiful historic building to their hearts. The church has continued to be a focus for English speaking people of the area up to the present day.
In October 2010, the structure of the church was severely damaged during excavation of an adjacent site for the construction of a high-rise building. The northwest corner of the church subsided and the building was declared unsafe by the authorities.
A nearby Roman Catholic Chapel was rented so that regular worship could continue and the church contents were put into storage. A claim was made on the property developer’s insurance. Liability was admitted. The Diocese of Gibraltar signed the insurance discharge, but it was then discovered that they were not the owners of the church. It was established that the owner was a London based charity known then as the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG). USPG also owned the accommodation in Menton for the incumbent Chaplain (known as the Chaplaincy Flat). After lengthy negotiation USPG agreed to donate both properties to the Chaplaincy of St John’s Church Menton.
The transfer of ownership of the church and Chaplaincy flat from the charity to St John’s caused major delays and incurred substantial legal costs.
THE INSURANCE CLAIM
The insurance claim was submitted by the then St John’s Chaplaincy Council on the basis of reinstating the building exactly as it had been before the accident. The project architect obtaining
planning consent asked for tenders from 3 contractors, the lowest quotation was €574,080 and was agreed. The Chaplaincy Council decided that this was a unique opportunity to enhance and modernise
the church with a new strengthened west façade and an interior suitable for social activities. Given this opportunity the Council decided to take cash settlement in lieu of repairs.
The insurance company paid separately €232,024 for emergency stabilisation of the church structure using the latest technique of resin injection and a further total of €126,018 for security, clearing the site, professional fees and window removal. The total settlement was therefore €932,122.
EXCHANGE OF PROPERTY WITH DEVELOPERS
As the new owners of St John’s Church, the Chaplaincy Council entered into negotiations with the developers to exchange part of the garden in return for two residential flats and one commercial space. This required planning consent. At the last minute the Architecte des Bâtiments de France intervened to protect the view of the church from Avenue Carnot. A new planning application had to be submitted which caused a further delay. The outcome was that the Church was to receive two commercial spaces and two garage spaces and the developers had to reduce the size of their building.
The external work on the church building is almost complete and the internal refurbishment and redecoration is under way. We have spent a total of €354,000 on the project and there is a further €220,000 to spend.
The Chaplaincy Council is very proud of what has been achieved despite the many obstacles in their way. The church structure is now sound and in much better condition than prior to the accident. The inside of the church, when complete, will be traditional and have greatly improved facilities.
The ongoing finances look healthier than before in that we now own the church freehold and the chaplaincy flat. Also, through negotiation with the property developers, the council will own the two commercial leasehold properties and two parking spaces in the development.
The problem now is that we urgently need to raise funds in order to be able to finish the project. When the community will be able to move back into the church this will reduce running costs by €13,200 per year. These savings and the future income which will be obtained from the commercial property and also wider use of the church, for example braderies and concerts, will enable the church to be on a sound financial footing for the future.
EXTRA COSTS WHICH HAVE LEAD TO THE CURRENT POSITION
The current fund shortfall arises from the delays in acquiring the ownership of the church building and the chaplaincy flat, the involvement of the Architecte des Bâtiments de France and
negotiations with the property developers. The legal costs of acquiring the property were
It would have been reasonable for the project to be completed within 3 years. Instead it has taken 9 years.
A breakdown of the costs is as follows:
Legal costs and property tax
Legal costs and property tax in the UK and France amounted to €68,390 and there were further fees of €3,348 for translation of essential legal documents. A total of €71,738.
Costs due to closure of the church
Pews and library books had to be removed from the damaged church and stored off site. This cost was €7,200 per annum. An alternative site for Sunday worship was rented at a cost of €5,200 per annum.
The total cost on these items, for 6 years, is €79,000.
Loss of capital value due to inflation
Based on 6 years delay at an average of 1.5% per annum inflation, the capital lost about €50,000 of its value.
The total is about €200,000 and this is the cost to the church of the unavoidable delays which occurred during the rebuild and refurbishment project.
Issued on behalf of St John's Chaplaincy Council.
God bless you.
Cheques payable to St John's Church, Le Soleil de Menton, 2 avenue du Pigautier, 06500 Menton France