Council Say No To Flats At St. Alban's Church
A public inquiry is expected to be held next year
Ealing Council has refused permission to a planning application for a residential development at the St. Alban's Church site. The matter is now expected to be the subject of a Public Inquiry early next year.
The move was welcomed by local Councillor Andrew Steed (Lib Dem) as "a step in the right direction".
The decision was taken by planning officials at Ealing Council using their delegated powers, in advance of the next planning meeting on October 17th where the matter was due for discussion.
The developer has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate. It is understood that the Council has recommended to the Inspectorate that a Public Inquiry be held due to the amount of community interest in the matter and that this has now been agreed for next January or February.
A decision on the controversial planning application had been twice postponed in the past year by the planning committee as it sought to obtain 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. A nursery school on the site was to be allowed to remain.
Local residents’ groups and councillors have been campaigning to have the Church building and site retained for community use. Alternative uses to a residential development included a school, a theatre, or use by the Armenian Church or Antiochian Orthodox Church. A representative from a Polish Catholic Church has recently expressed interest in the site.
Councillor Steed commented;
'I welcome the decision of the Planning Department of Ealing Council to reject the application to turn St Albans Church into residential use. There has always been a strong case that the site should be retained for Community use and we know of a number of different groups who are interested. This includes a number of religious foundations, so the Church could be retained as a place of worship. All of those interested groups have indicated that they would be happy for the Montessori School to remain on site as well.
“It is also good news that this will be decided by a Public Inquiry, probably next year, so that there is transparency and local residents will get a chance to voice their opinions. Thanks to everyone involved, including the St. Alban's Community Association (SACA,) who have worked on the campaign to save the Church and who believe this unique site should not become a private walled development".
Local councillors Gary Malcolm annd Angie Bray MP have also opposed the change of use to a residential development and argued in favour of retaining the site for the local community.
A site visit by Ealing planning officials and councillors last July attracted over 100 people opposed to the current proposed development.
October 9, 2012