Thursday 4 November 2021

FURTHER UPDATE on vital Harlesden church threatened with eviction today - a month's grace?


The Kilburn Times has followed up the Wembley Matters story today LINK and secured this statement from Fruition Properties:

Fruition Properties (Scrubs Lane Ltd), owners of the site said the developer has been requesting vacant possession since November 2020 and was "within its property rights", to take back possession of the building.

“Despite its right to take possession immediately, it has offered one month’s notice being mindful of ongoing activities in the nursery, allowing for a smoother transition.

“We are aware of the sensitivities of the site and have tried to be accommodating in our approach and hope to come to an amicable resolution.”


From Harlesden Neighbourhood Forum

On the corner of Harrow Road and Scrubs Lane, the City Mission Church has been part of the community for years. The Church, Nursery, food bank, and many other services (mainly aimed at the BAME community) are in trouble. Despite being recognised as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by Brent Council, their property-developer landlords have given them all notice to quit by next FRIDAY, 5th NOVEMBER!

Harlesden Neighbourhood Forum is doing all we can to support the church, but an extensive list of other residents and community groups can help the fight. Please go to to register your support.



In 2018 Property developers Fruition Properties gained planning permission to build a 20 storey block of flats on the church site. They promised to provide space for the church and the nursery within the new building. This year that planning permission expired. 

The developers have discussed the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) as they, notthe London Boroughs of Brent or Hammersmith & Fulham, are the planning authority. As is usual, these discussions are cloaked in secrecy, so quite why and quite why so quickly the developers want the church gone is unclear. We don’t know whether a new church or nursery in any new planning application is on the table. 

The church premises straddles two boroughs, Brent and Hammersmith &Fulham. Andy Slaughter MP for Hammersmith is taking the lead, along with Dawn Butler MP . Kensal Green Councillors Kelcher, Chan, and Hector are aware of the problem. Councillor Kelcher is Chair of Planning at Brent and sits on the OPDC’s Planning Committee. 

The petition is organised by Robin Brown, a retired town planner and coordinator of the Grand Union Alliance (representing most of the community groups affected by developments in the OPDC area and HS2) and Professor Jennifer Robinson, an expert in urban development at UCL.

In his presentation to the OPDC Planning Committee, Rev Desmond Hall described the activities of the City Mission Church: 


The PCM ministers to an average congregation of around about 250 people but on a Sunday, we may have about 700 to a thousand people attending from the different churches and the different faith groups that worship at that site. The space offers denominal churches servicing black ethnic minorities; we have Portuguese, Brazilian, Nigerian, Ghanaian and Philippians. It’s a cacophony of cultures that come together at 2 Scrubs Lane. A nursery with a large intake of the national educational grant. Most of our children come under NEG places. We have a supplementary school that is thriving and helping to promote higher education for our children in the borough. We have musical educational classes to help develop talent of children and young people linked to local schools. We have an elders program. As you know Scrubs Lane, College Park, there is a widening sector of elderly people; many times they tell us they are prisoners in their own homes. We offer facilities for elderly people to come out and engage with other elders. We recently set up a new dementia project, which was very helpfully supported by Brent and Age UK.

The church says that currently, much effort has been put into maintaining mutual support and care during the COVID pandemic and its aftermath, including the provision through its food bank of sustenance for some 500 persons every week. This is the harsh reality of daily life in this low-income neighbourhood, something that the church struggles with on behalf of the community. It is now widely recognised that deprived and BAME communities have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. COVID interruptions to the nursery, which provides the financial basis for the church, have caused financial pressures and rental arrears: as a commercial undertaking this ought to qualify for protection under the current national COVID measures for commercial rental properties

In correspondence with Wembley Matters contributor Philip Grant, Cllr Matt Kelcher said:

I can confirm that I fully support the local church and want them to stay. Fundamentally, this is a legal dispute between the two parties (tenant and landlord) but I do think there are things we can all do to put pressure on the developer.


I have discussed this with the senior team at OPDC, and am also working with my colleagues on the H and F side (this is one of those strange buildings which has entrances which open onto both boroughs).


The owners of the building did have planning permission for a co living space which would re-provide a space for the church and a nursery when developed. However, they never started work on this and the permission has expired. Therefore, in my view the status quo should remain in place and the church and nursery should continue to operate until a new permission for development is given.


OPDC has also made it clear that any application brought forward by the developer of the site would need to include re-provision for a church and nursery to be successful. Brent has also designated the nursery as a community asset to back this up.


Therefore, I do think the two local bodies are doing what they can to put moral pressure on the developer, but also show them that they wouldn’t be able to develop the site and extract any extra profit from it unless they come to an accommodation with the community. But with no other planning application being submitted there isn’t anything they can directly do right now to block the eviction in my understanding (happy to hear ideas to the contrary). 



Philip Grant said...

I hope that the church and its supporters can persuade the developer to halt this threatened eviction. The church is a valuable community resource, and it needs to be found a suitable temporary home, which it can use while redevelopment of the site takes place. No start to the development should be allowed until this has been arranged, and a firm commitment given that the new building will include suitable replacement accommodation for the church and its activities.

The name of the developer caught my eye, as Fruition Properties Ltd is also applying for planning permission to demolish the former John Lyon Public House in Watford Road, Sudbury. They want to build a 5 storey block of flats, with no affordable homes.

The main director of Fruition, and the person controlling its ultimate holding company (according to Companies House records) is Manish Vinod Khiroya. He is the person that MPs and councillors should be pressing to act reasonably over the church.

Philip Grant said...

I sent a copy of my comment above to the three Kensal Green Ward councillors, and would like to thank Matt Kelcher for his prompt and helpful response, which Martin has added as an update to the article above, with the councillor's permission.

As I have often said before, if there is a local issue you feel strongly about, I would encourage you to share your views on it with the Brent councillors for the ward(s) it affects.

Each councillor receives an annual Member's Allowance (the last time I saw a figure for this, I think it was £12,000, but it may be slightly more now). They are being paid this to cover the time and expenses they incur in representing the interests of residents in their area.

We should feel entitled to expect our councillors to do that, so it is important that we elect people who will carry out that role well. As well as electing them, we should encourage them, by engaging with them so they know what their residents think about local issues.

And we can hold them to account, especially when it comes to local Council elections, every four years. The next elections are in May 2022, just six months away.

If you have a good local councillor, who is standing for re-election, then by all means consider voting for them. If you have one or more councillors who do not appear to have done much, if anything, for your area (while still drawing their £12k allowance!), then please consider NOT voting for them, even if they are standing for a party you might usually vote for.

But do please vote in the local elections, and choose the people who you think will do a good job for your area, as well as holding those who have the power at the top of Brent Council to account.

Anonymous said...

"allowing for a smoother transition"???

On to the streets, that means.

The company will not accept a payment of back-rent from the periods of lockdown, offered on behalf of the church by a benefactor - because it would undermine their position.

Philip Grant said...

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.

Anonymous said...

City Mission Church = "Finished Goods"???

Looks like Fruition just want them out so they can sell the land with vacant possession and make an even bigger profit, and **** the community!!!

Martin Francis said...

Martin Francis said...

Minutes of GLA Planning Committee October 11th 2017 re application o this site:

Martin Francis said...

August 18th 2018:

Fruition receives go ahead for £50 million regeneration at Old Oak

Fruition Properties has obtained approval for a massive development project of their site at 2 Scrubs Lane. The scheme will include 2,300 sq ft of commercial space, a new church, nursery and community facilities, as well as a 20-storey residential tower comprising 85 one, two and three bedroom apartments – 35% of which will be affordable, with 12 apartments for London Living Rent and 16 for shared ownership.

The cost for the regeneration will be in the region of £50 million, which has been part-funded by Propio, the crowdfunding platform set up by Fruition’s chief operating officer, Parul Scampion. Work on the project is due to start early 2019 and should be completed in 2021.

Mani Khiroya, Managing Director of Fruition Properties, says: “This is a hugely prestigious project for us, playing a key part in the wider regeneration of Old Oak and Park Royal – which when finished will deliver a new, highly connected district for London from underutilised land. The result demonstrates our values and commitment to working closely with the community, the local and wider London authorities to achieve an outcome that is beneficial for all parties. When complete, not only will 2 Scrubs Lane provide much needed new private and affordable homes but also improved fit-for-purpose community facilities that will allow the local area to flourish.”

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