Future Of St. Albans Church Becoming Clearer
Likely to remain in use as a church for christian worship
St. Alban's Church is expected to remain as a place for christian worship. The church had been the subject of controversy in recent years when local groups campaigned against a proposal for residential development at the Acton Green site.
Representatives of the London Diocese of the Church of the Church of England are working through the options to determine what the future use of the building might be.
A spokesman for the Diocese said: "The initial indications are that another place of worship in this location might present new opportunities for worship and mission.
"Following the decision of the planning inspector not to grant planning permission for the residential development of St Albans, Acton Green, the Diocese of London is working through the options and required process to determine what the future use of the building might be.
"As a first stage, we are considering whether the building is required as an Anglican place of worship. The initial indications are that another place of worship in this location might present new opportunities for worship and mission.
"More detailed proposals are being developed to ensure that this would be a sustainable long term use. Should this next stage of the work confirm that the appropriate future use of the building is as a place of worship, a draft Pastoral Scheme under Section 70 of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 would be drawn up and published, and interested parties consulted."
Chris Chauncy, secretary of St Alban’s (W4) Community Association ( SACA) , said: “We are pleased that things are now falling into place. The London Diocese has promised that the local community will be closely involved. That approach is shared by all the potential users of the site that we know of. At long last life will be brought back into St Alban’s and the site’s future for the community is secure. We look forward to the dotting of ‘i's and the crossing of ‘t’s that will enable this project to flourish as it should.”
St Alban's has been unused as a church for many years. Many Church of England parishes have seen declining congregations and disused churches have been sold for development but it is understood that the C of E believes that sufficient demand has been demonstrated for the use of another church in Chiswick.
If the latest proposal goes ahead, it is unlikely to be a conventional 'parish' church and it is thought that a number of interested parties may see it as an opportunity to find space for worship and community activities.
It is thought that the site could be put into use at a manageable cost but development would require a six figure sum over a number of years and that funding has yet to be worked out.
Local community groups in Chiswick won their battle last year against an attempt by a developer to turn St. Albans into a residential development.
The Planning Inspector dismissed an appeal by the developer on the basis that it would result in the loss of a local community facility for which there is "a continued demand."
During the five-day public inquiry in Ealing in January and March 2013 the then developer, Alastair Dias of Oaktree Court (Bedford Park) Ltd along with Caterpillar Montessori School , challenged Ealing Council’s failure to approve his planning application to build ten flats and a house on the Acton Green Common site of the disused church.
A number of community groups had been interested in retaining the site for alternative uses.These included use as a place of worship for a number of other churches, including the Armenian Church, the Antiochian church and a Polish catholic church. There was also support for a free primary school or a visual arts and community theatre. Ealing Council also gave evidence in support of continued community use.
Oaktree Court had entered into a contract with the Church of England seven years ago which has now ended.
January 10, 2014