St.Margaret’s Parish Centre, Horsforth, Leeds


St.Margaret’s Parish Centre, Horsforth, Leeds

Extension to Listed Grade II Church of St.Margaret, Horsforth; containing meeting rooms, kitchen, office, and toilets for community as well as church use. Constructed of traditional materials largely sourced within the UK including local stone set in traditional lime mortar and roof covering of Burlington slate.

All concrete and blockwork has less than half normal Portland cement content. Insulation manufactured from recycled glass bottles. Low energy lighting throughout with natural daylight provided to internal spaces by sun-tubes and rooflights. Underground rainwater harvesting tank provides water for flushing toilets. A ground source heat pump supplies the underfloor heating installation. Low maintenance.


Client Name:

St.Margaret’s Parochial Church Council


Leeds Architecture Award 2009, RICA Pro Yorkshire Sustainability Award 2009



The Church of St. Margaret, Horsforth is a Grade II Listed building designed by John Loughborough Pearson and constructed between 1877 and 1901.

The Parochial Church Council had contemplated the need for additional accommodation for many years. In September 2002 concerns were raised that the inadequate facilities at the Church was undermining the efforts being made to increase the number of younger people and families regularly attending the Church. The Church had an aging congregation and needed to attract new ‘blood’ to promote itself more actively in the community and provide for events that could widen its use during the week and thus secure it’s future use. Although the Church is one of the largest indoor spaces in the area and is regularly used for concerts and civic services, the ancillary spaces were inadequate.

In December 2002 sketch plans were presented to the PCC proposing an extension on the north side of the Church with a covered link to the north porch; which would function as the main entrance to both Church and extension. Ground levels at the north porch facilitated level access for the disabled and the prominent elevations of the Church on the south and east side remained unaffected by the scheme, thus maintaining the character and setting of the Church.

In October 2004 the PCC appointed a working group, who were keen that the new building should also be used to promote environmental awareness and sustainability and as far as reasonably practical should incorporate UK, if not local sourced materials and have low energy consumption and low maintenance.

The design brief focussed on the need to provide a large meeting room for conferences, use by local organisations, Junior Church, church group meetings and serving of refreshments after church services and concerts as well as changing for visiting dignitaries, clergy, orchestras and choirs attending events in the church. A small committee room would provide a meeting place for smaller groups. Other accommodation to include an administration office, a large kitchen and toilets. The new Parish Centre was officially opened by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds in September 2008.

The new structure compliments the existing Church building with the main frontage taking its form and scale from the double gabled wall of the adjacent Lady Chapel. The building is not over-dominant and is sympathetic to the style of the Church but with contemporary elements producing a light and spacious interior. Constructed largely of traditional quality materials sourced within the UK, the external walls are of local hand dressed gritstone set in traditional lime mortar with window surrounds, plinth coursing, gablets and copings modelled on similar features on the Church building. The roof is finished with Burlington slate and reclaimed ridge tiles. Window frames are bronze with leaded double glazed units and traditional style ironmongery.

The glazed link; which provides an attractive modern entrance to both the Church and the new Parish Centre, is approached through a small courtyard which can be secured to provide a safe area for young children to play and in warm sunny weather a pleasant place to sit for refreshments after a church service, concert or other function. The wrought iron entrance gates were formerly on the north porch. The link leads through the circulation space to the large meeting room which is capable of accommodating about 75 persons seated for meetings, functions and parties. The large windows and high ceiling give a light and spacious interior and a large side door opens out into the courtyard. Smaller mid-week services are now held in this room instead of the Church. The adjacent kitchen is fully fitted to cater for large functions and has a serving hatch through to the large meeting room.

The internal corridor leads to a smaller meeting room capable of accommodating up to 20 persons; the Church Office; five toilets incorporating disabled and baby-change facilities and the plant room containing the ground source heat pump and controls. A staircase off the corridor leads up to the large first floor space above the smaller rooms. This space is to be sub-divided and fitted out, when further funding is available, to provide storage and a meeting space (possibly for youth groups).

To achieve a low carbon footprint the concrete used in the foundations, ground slab and blockwork incorporates ground granulated blast furnace slag reducing by 50% the Portland cement requirement. Carbon neutral insulation quilt manufactured from recycled glass bottles is used throughout. Internal spaces are provided with natural daylight through sun-tubes and conservation style rooflights to minimise the use of the low energy artificial lighting. Rainwater is collected from the roof and stored in an underground storage tank for flushing the toilets.  A ground source heat pump supplies the underfloor heating installation with heat drawn from deep boreholes within the churchyard and heat reclaimed from the mechanical extract ventilation.

The completed Parish Centre has proved to be a great asset to both the Church and the wider community with regular bookings from local groups, Horsforth Town Council and outside organisations. Much interest has been generated by the building’s sustainability credentials. It has transformed the work of the Junior Church and brought members of the Church closer together as well as giving the Church a higher profile within the township.