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Eric Parry fields masterplan for St Martin's

Eric Parry Architects has unveiled the first images of its plans for the radical revamp of London's St Martin-in-the-Fields church, writes Ed Dorrell. The design - submitted for planning this week - includes a masterplan of James Gibbs'church, redevelops the 18th century crypt, and redesigns the adjacent vicarage, vestry and school.

Church leaders commissioned the practice - following advice from CABE - to completely rework the site, improving facilities for the religious community and social workers and creating a Chinese community office and visitor spaces. The practice will also oversee a conservation programme for the church that cleans the facade, refurbishes the historic fabric and restores the interior.

It has carried out widespread consultation on the sensitive project, including meetings with the church's Diocese Advisory Committee, English Heritage, Westminster City Council and CABE, in an attempt to win the support of the heritage lobby.

The masterplan proposes that the 'potential of the crypt should be unlocked ' through the reconstruction of the burial vaults and their extension to the north and the east. This new space will allow for the rearrangement of uses into the most appropriate spaces.

The scheme includes the design of a new entry and lift facility in a widened church path - running parallel to the church - which will guide visitors down to a new reception area. Further east, along the church path, the practice also plans a new light well for the crypt. This reworked crypt will allow for a new church hall to be built underground together with the church's social work facilities, the Chinese community offices, and a new exhibition and interpretation space.

The project also redesigns the adjacent buildings owned by the church.

They will house refurbished flats for the parish's three vicars, better facilities for a resident youth charity and an improved school building.

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