Tuesday 9 November 2021

Cllr Kelcher's update on situation around City Mission Church's threatened eviction


City Mission Church

 Cllr Matt Kelcher (Kensal Green) has circulated concerned residents with the results of his research into the threatened eviction by developer Fruition of the City Mission Pentecostal Church from its Harlesden site:

The Mission Pentecostal Church operates a faith and community facility from the existing building, including a local nursery and foodbank. As a representative of the local community I have visited the site on a few occasions and met people who use the facilities. I know it does great work for the wider community and has a lot of local support.


Unfortunately, occupies the building on a “Tenancy At Will’ arrangement, and so has very limited security. On Friday 29 October, Fruition Properties, who are the owners and developers of the site, issued a termination notice effective of Friday 5 November.


Until June this year, the building had planning consent to redevelop the site for residential development, granted by OPDC in 2018. The planning approval included a condition that Fruition must secure replacement space for the Mission Pentecostal Church and associated foodbank and nursery as part of the new development.


I remember visiting the premises when this application was under consideration (this was as a ward councillor a few years before I joined the OPDC planning committee myself) and the presentation I heard really put the provision of these facilities at the heart of why it should receive community support. I believe it would be unjust for the owners of the site to go back on these promises.


This consent lapsed in June 2021 and Fruition are looking to submit a new application. The OPDC have clear planning policy that will require re-provision for the church and any associated community service in any new application. I met (virtually) with the Chair of the OPDC Planning Committee, the Director of Planning and Cllr Harcourt from Hammersmith and Fulham around this time and emphasised the value to church gives to the community. I was pleased that following this OPDC planning officers met with both the developer and church to highlight these requirements.


Therefore, whilst we should all join together to campaign to save the church, we should be clear that the OPDC have not been complicit or encouraging of the eviction notice. Indeed, if a new application were to come in for the development of the site, the OPDC have made it clear that they would strengthen the protection that the church/nursery has above and beyond what it has now.


Similarly, as the site is in the devolved OPDC area, there is little that the team in Brent can do to block this eviction either. Though I have been in touch with the Head of Planning to discuss the matter.


It seems the owners have given up on completely re-developing the site and are trying to eek as much out of the current space as possible by evicting the church. Or, they hope that if they go some time without a church in place, and then re-apply for permission then no conditions will be added to planning consent.


It is our job as community representatives to ensure they cannot get away with this by reminding everyone how important these facilities are to people who live in Kensal Green, and that any future for the site must involve the Mission Pentecostal Church.


Most recently, I have liaised with Andy Slaughter MP (the building straddles the boundary between Brent and Hammersmith & Fulham so a lot of people are interested in the subject) and will ensure Brent is represented at a meeting he is organising with the developers, if I am unable to attend myself.


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