Ealing Council needs more information before making decision
The controversial planning application to turn St. Alban’s Church into ten flats, which was due to be discussed by Ealing Council tomorrow (Wednesday November 9th) has been postponed. It is understood the item was withdrawn from the planning committee agenda because further information from the applicant was not received in time.
Pressure has been mounting in recent weeks from community groups to maintain the church building in South Parade for community use and a number of proposals had been put forward by the newly-formed St. Alban’s Community Association ( SACA) including turning the building into a Free School, or using it as a community theatre and cafe.
Ealing Council officials and councillors had visited the site last weekend and met local residents who also expressed concern about a flood risk and about the site being a burial ground.
It is expected the matter may come up for discussion at the next planning committee meeting which is scheduled for November 30th.
A report by a council official has recommended granting planning permission to the developer, subject to conditions, but the Chiswick-based group, which has collected a petition of 4,500 signatures opposed to the plan, wants the building to be kept for community use.
In their objection to the planning application the SACA groups calls on councillors to resist residential development and engage with the community to develop an alternative use of the church building and site.
Their submission to the Council includes a proposal to convert the building into a theatre and visual arts venue with a 350-seat auditorium, cafe, rehearsal space for school and youth productions and art exhibitions.
Residents inside Church on Saturday - picture by Ian Wylie
A proposal from St. Michael and All Angels church for a Free School on the site says that the church and its existing buildings offer 1785m of space over two floors and outlying buildings, and an overall scheme could create a school of 12 classrooms of 24 students, including staff offices and facilities.
St Michael's says it believes it to be a "credible plan' and it is aware of the need for local schooling within the Acton Green area.
St. Alban's, a Victorian red-brick structure which was built in 1888, ceased to be a functioning Church of England parish church in the late 1990s and was then used by evangelical mission the Oak Tree Anglican fellowship, which relocated to Acton in 2006, finding it unsuitable due to the need for renovation and difficult accessibility.
In recent years there has been a growing fashion for former churches to be converted into residential accommodation as the church-going population declines throughout the UK.
The current application before the council is for conversion of the disused church building into ten residential flats and the demolition of the former church hall building and second outbuilding, currently occupied by the Caterpillar Montessori group. This would be replaced with two two-storey' pavilion' type structures, one to provide a replacement nursery school facility and the other a detached house.
It is understood there is a contract for sale subject to planning permission between the Church of England and a local developer.The London Diocese has previously stated that the Church of St. Alban’s was no longer needed by them due to diminishing congregations.
Angie Bray MP for Ealing and Acton Central said the delay gave a “window of opportunity” to community groups. There were plenty of groups who needed a base and the St. Alban’s site offered a possible home to some of them.
November 8, 2011