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Address to Congregation

Planning Appeal Decision

As you will have heard and as I said in the notices: the planning inspector has ruled against our appeal, and we therefore do not have planning permission to sell and develop part of our Cathedral land.

And how should we react to this? My initial feelings were a mixture of shock, disappointment, sadness, anger and confusion.

I respect the decision, of course, but I am deeply disappointed. Not only would this have been a way to secure the long-term future of the Cathedral and deal with the subsidence affecting the Cathedral Close (that’s our housing for some of our clergy and musicians) but also means that we cannot share in providing much-needed local affordable accommodation. I am concerned too for all the many people – including the team at Vivid Homes and, particularly, members of our own cathedral Community who have put in so much work and energy to the project recently, over the past decade and even before – who might feel that all their hard work has been in vain. I would like, on our behalf, to express publicly our deep gratitude for those who have given so much commitment and passion and who have created some long-lasting important relationships.

I want to apologise to all those who, like us, learnt of the decision through social media before we had a chance to make contact. Around 9.00 pm on Friday evening a post was spotted on the local MP’s Facebook page which made it clear that our appeal had been dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate. (Do look at it if you can) Our Chief Operations Officer Matt O’Grady and Nicola Pratt worked into the small hours to send the preplanned cascade of emails which some of you may have received. We have not yet been formally notified.

The inspector’s report runs to 26 pages and reflects much of what was said at the inquiry. We are still digesting it. The way forward from here is challenging. In the short term the Cathedral faces an unsustainable annual deficit of about £150K which can only be met by increased income or painful irreversible cuts in what we offer. We also have to think of the mid-term and future, specifically the need to replace the close housing and the £3.5M of repairs to this building. One idea that we might consider is of a major capital appeal across the county and diocese to produce an endowment and to rebuild the Close.

My initial feelings have now been replaced by a sense of hope and determination. A determination that we can take this forward together, see these issues to a point where a new Dean can take over leadership. What we do have is a God in whom we trust – and a hard-working, loyal and committed staff, congregation and volunteers. I have been very moved by the continuing support and encouragement I have experienced since my temporary taking up of the Dean’s role – but that support has not just been for me – it has permeated relationships here in a very profound and invaluable way. It has also shown itself in a 10% increase in planned giving and an amazing response to our Music Patrons Scheme. We shall be having all sorts of conversations over the next few days and weeks. I shall be away on holiday for a week from this Thursday but will be able to share more when it comes to our Community Meeting on 9th June. You will see in the notices that I have asked that you might email in about other possible issues for the meeting – that could include any suggestions about the way ahead. Let’s be creative. Meanwhile, can I encourage you to talk about it, love one another, share the difficult feelings you might have and pray about it.

Please do watch the Youtube of our livestream here in the mean time. Watch from 23 minutes.


A shortened video will be available soon.  The adress is at 23 minutes.


Ways to Support

Via our Enthuse Page here

Via our Website here

Support our Music and become a Patron  here

Give via the Parish Giving Scheme here

If you would like to support the Cathedral by way of a donation, sponsorship or would like to have a conversation around ways to support please contact, Nicola Pratt, Head of Development on

To contact Stuart please email, Lisa Hatherall, Deanspa on

If you would like to support the Cathedral by way of a donation, sponsorship or would like to have a conversation around ways to support please contact, Nicola Pratt, Head of Development on

Media enquiries to be addressed to Nicola Pratt, details as above.

Thank you for your Support.