Rev. Desmond Hall of the City Mission Church, Harlesden that has been threated with eviction from its premises by developers Fruition, has just commented:
As a result of the collective effort and the intervention of Andy Slaughter MP, Mr David Lunt, the CEO of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, (OPDC) spoke to the Trustees of the church, expressing his full support for the church by promising to have open dialogue with the developers to restore matters.
OPDC intend to act as brokers for the situation.
The Trustees of the church have expressed their deep gratitude to everyone involved, even though as yet the situation is not fully resolved. Today, the outcome is moving in the right direction.
Cllr Jumbo Chan (Kensal Green ward) said:
I fully support the local church, including their demand to stay. Indeed, it is especially important during such uncertain times that valuable community assets such as the church (and the nursery) are not cast away for the sake of profit. I am therefore perturbed that, and despite Brent Council’s formal designation of the site as an Asset of Community Value, profiteers are seeking to eject the church.
It is interesting that Fruition are a developer well known in Brent. Their roots are a bit iffy if you delve deeply, or even not so deeply.
Would OPDC have ever stepped in without pressure from Andy Slaughter and various local community groups? OPDC are the planning authority that approved the development in the first place. This is an area which could end up being ‘cleansed’ of the existing communities to make way for the high density developments on a par with Hong Kong - and as bad as Nine Elms.
Or nearer home Wembley Park.
I have been doing some more research online about the Fruition Properties Ltd proposals to demolish City Mission Church (which was only built in 2008!) and replace it with a block of flats (with replacement church and nursery).
The land is owned by Fruition’s subsidiary, Scrubs Lane Ltd, which bought the freehold of the site around 2015. City Mission Church had a lease on the site, for which they apparently paid rent of £130k a year. When that lease ended, Scrubs Lane Ltd allowed them to continue in occupation, for the same rent, on a six-month rolling basis.
The business of Scrubs Lane Ltd (Company No. 09796866) appears to be buying and selling land. The way its (unaudited) accounts treat the land at 2 Scrubs Lane is interesting! At 31 March 2019 it is shown as an asset in the Balance Sheet as “Work in Progress”, at its cost of £4,807,534. At 31 March 2020, it appears as “Finished Goods”, with a valuation of £8m.
The revaluation may have something to do with the property being refinanced by Scrubs Lane Ltd in December 2020. The main “charge” over the land (one of several secured on it) now appears to be for a loan (amount unknown) from I&M Bank Ltd, of Nairobi, Kenya.
I have seen it suggested that Brent Council granted planning permission for the proposed redevelopment at 2 Scrubs Lane. That is not correct. Planning permission was actually given by the OPDC on 22 June 2018 (under their ref. 17/0091), and valid for three years. As construction on the proposed scheme had not begun by June 2021, that planning permission has now lapsed.
The application was referred to Brent Council (and Hammersmith and Fulham Council, as the borough boundary passes through the site) in 2017, and dealt with under Brent’s ref. 17/3319. The decision notice on this application says:
‘The Council of the London Borough of Brent, the Local Planning Authority, have considered your proposal and wish to raise OBJECTION for the reasons set out in Schedule B.’
The reasons were: ‘Brent Council objects to the proposal on the grounds of design and scale and the proposed affordable housing (quantum & tenure split).’
The proposal (which OPDC accepted, despite Brent’s objection) was for 83 flats, of which only 20 would be “affordable”, and even those would be “intermediate”, with none for social or “London affordable” rent.
I hope that this comment provides some useful background information. I am adding it to both recent blogs about the possible eviction of City Mission Church.
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