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DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
 
Over the course of a year the Cathedral welcomes 450,000 people either as tourists or those who use the Cathedral by attending services, concerts, lectures, events, etc.

In order to cope with this and other requirements of the modern age, both in terms of legislation and good practice, over recent decades mediaeval spaces in and around the Cathedral have been put to inappropriate uses and compromises made. Some areas cannot be opened up for use by the public or even retained as glorious, tranquil spaces because they have been pressed into service for storage or other temporary usage due to lack of any alternative room.

Wells Cathedral is a hugely significant site. It has been a place of worship and mission for centuries and is the seat of the Bishop. Its historic set of buildings form an unrivalled mediaeval complex and the Cathedral itself is an architectural gem housing one of the finest mediaeval art galleries in Europe on its West Front. The Cathedral forms a focus for the community, both locally and regionally, and it has a significant position in the local economy. The musical heritage of the Cathedral stretches back centuries and the Cathedral continues to uphold the unique English Choral tradition.

However, the Cathedral and its precincts are mediaeval structures designed to the usage and requirements of the Middle Ages. Those uses have changed radically over the years and modern expectations and regulations have to be applied. Twelve years ago the Cathedral authorities began to plan for solutions to these problems - the Cathedral Development Project.

The vision is to open up the Cathedral more - to increase access in all senses. We wish to enable people to visit more parts of the Cathedral; to enable disabled persons to visit all the ground floor areas of Cathedral and precincts; to open up more of the meaning of the place. We wish to provide a better experience for everyone who comes and to provide a proper education resource for children and adults. We want to provide in-door lavatories. We intend to conserve the fabric of the Cathedral more effectively.

The project is designed as one coherent package with modest new buildings on three sites around the Cathedral, each in a location that has been built on before. It is in four phases of which the first two have now been completed and work is continuing on the other two.

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