Decision On St. Alban's Church Postponed

Groups in favour of community use speak at planning meeting

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Ealing Council has deferred a decision on the proposed development at the St. Alban's church site.

A planning meeting last night (July 25) heard calls from local councillors and residents' groups for the building to be retained for community use.

The matter will not come up for discussion for at least another month at the earliest. The planning committee is seeking further information from the developer.

The current application is to convert the disused church into ten residential flats and add 2 two-storey buildings to the site. Local community groups, including St. Albans (W4) Community Association, and SACA,have produced a number of alternative uses to the proposed housing units:

Southfield ward Councillor Andrew Steed commented;

"After action from ward councillors and the St Albans Community Association, the Planning Committee decided more information was needed on potential alternative use and confirmation of the financial contribution from the developer. 

I spoke against the plans and although we would have preferred the Committee to reject the proposals, I am happy with this decision.

The Committee were rightly sceptical of the Planning Officer's report. I would like to thank all those who objected and the work of the St Albans Community Association who have liaised with groups who would like to see the Church site retained for community use."

The alternative proposals include ; :

• A Free School organised by local parents

• Theatre and community venue by SightLine

• Church and community hall run by the Antiochian Orthodox Society .

The Armenian Church is also interested in acquiring the premises The Armenian Church requires an additional place of worship for its 10,000 congregation in Acton, Chiswick and Ealing.

The scene at last weekend's site visit

Councillor Gary Malcolm said:

"There are numerous grounds to oppose the application. The main argument against the development is the change of use. I do not believe alternative community uses have been explored by the developer. The Southfield Liberal Democrats believe that several community options do now exist.”

Angie Bray MP for Ealing Central and Acton recently said :

"This church building is an important part of the community and provides a well-loved backdrop to Acton Green. It currently houses just a nursery school and could therefore provide valuable extra space for community activities.

Picture: Ian Wylie

A site visit by Ealing planning officials and councillors last weekend attracted over 100 people opposed to the current proposed development. These included representatives of the St. Alban's Community Association, Mr. Simon Abdel Nour of the Antiochian Society, Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, head of the Armenian Church (UK and Ireland), Mchael Bye, Director of Property of the London Diocesan Fund, and local councillors. Mark Perry of Sightline and architect Paul Vick ( theatre and visual arts proposal) attended along with representatives of the Free School proposal and Acton Community Forum.

A decision on the controversial development was originally expected to be made at a planning committee meeting at Ealing Town Hall last November but deferred. A report by a council official has recommended granting planning permission to the developer, subject to conditions.

July 26, 2012