St Paul’s proves that providing access for all can be beautifully done

St Paul’s Cathedral is about to begin work on the most significant changes to the Cathedral’s exterior in 300 years; and Allchurches Trust is delighted its annual grant is helping to fund the exciting project to construct a permanent, accessible, ramped entrance to the north side.

The beautiful design solution (featured in the artist's impressions), which has involved more than 20 years of planning, design and testing, will see a ramped entrance added made of Portland stone - the same stone originally used by Sir Christopher Wren to build ‘the new’ St Paul’s.

The Very Reverend David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s, said: “When St Paul’s was being rebuilt 300 years ago, there was no concept of equal access; so Wren built the Cathedral in classical style with steps on all sides. In the 21st Century, the difficulties that some people have in accessing this church are unacceptable, and we are setting out to create an easy and equal way into St Paul’s for all people all of the time, regardless of who they are and any particular need they may have.”

Permission has been granted by the City of London and the Cathedral Fabric Commission for England for the construction of the entrance ramp, with a second phase to build a new internal porch to follow as funding allows.
Allchurches Trust provides an annual grant to cathedrals in the UK and Ireland, which can help fund changes to buildings but also community outreach and education initiatives. St Paul’s is using its grant towards this major project to improve access to the cathedral.

Construction is expected to be completed during summer 2020. The project demonstrates that carefully designed adaptations for accessibility in heritage buildings need not be impossible; and that many of the long-held concerns around providing access to heritage buildings, such as gaining permission for works, can be overcome. After such careful consideration for so many years, the new entrance ramp clearly enhances Wren’s original building design and meets the commitment of St Paul’s to ensuring that everyone is able to share in the life and work of the Cathedral in the 21st century.

The Dean continued: “The granting of consent and start of construction for this project after many years of thought and consultation shows that, with sufficient commitment, even challenging heritage environments such as St Paul’s can be made more accessible.”

For top tips on planning and delivering a heritage or church building project, why not take a look at our blog from Gloucester Cathedral’s Head of Development, Theo Platt.

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