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Planners give green light for St Anne’s Church demolition

New block will 'regenerate the street' say architects of replacement buildings

22 May, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

St Anne’s Church

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to demolish a church in Regent’s Park and replace it with a nine-storey block of flats has been approved by the Town Hall’s planning committee.

Developers British Land had applied to knock down St Anne’s Church in Laxton Place, north of Euston Road, and build the block of 22 flats as part of a legal requirement to provide affordable homes in the area. They also sought permission to add three storeys to a block next door with office space and new shops on the ground floor of the housing block.

The developer has recently built Triton Square, Euston, a soaring complex of offices and shops, and the new homes are part of their planning permission. But a coalition of groups in the neighbourhood had hoped Camden Council would block the scheme for a variety of reasons.

At the meeting on Thursday night, councillors voted in favour of the plans despite concerns from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who use St Anne’s; Historic England, who expressed fears over the building’s effect on a Grade II-star listed church next door, St Mary Magdalene, designed by Victorian architect Augustus Pugin; and objections from Westminster Kings­way College, based next door, who say the building will cast their college in shadows.

Solicitor Linda Boa­teng, speaking on behalf of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, told the meeting that the scheme broke planning law as it would lead to the loss of community space.

She said: “It is a thriving community with over 500 members, and the congregation has in­creased since the church moved form its former home in Tufnell Park. “It is a multicultural church and provides a range of services including mentoring and homeless outreach projects. It provides support to the community and to teenagers – the only church of its type in London that provides this level of support.”

She cited the Town Hall’s policy of protecting community facilities and added there was a clear need for the church to remain in the Euston area. British Land’s representatives said they had been helping the church find new premises – but church representatives said nothing that had been offered was suitable, due to size, location or limits on use.

Ms Boateng added: “The fact remains, policy shows existing community facilities must be kept or replaced. The need for housing does not make up for the loss of a community building.”

British Land’s planning director, Michael Meadows, told the meeting the firm has a long-standing relationship with the Euston neighbourhood, saying “…we are immensely proud to work with the Camden and Euston communities”.

He added: “We are excited about this scheme and have been speaking to the community for 18 months… we will provide affordable housing for 100 local residents, jobs and a major investment in Camden. We have extended the church’s lease so they have until September to find a new place and we will assist the church in finding a new home.”

Architect Matthew Lloyd told the meeting the new block had been carefully designed and would have a positive effect on the area. He said: “It will help regenerate the street.”

The Town Hall’s planning committee voted unanimously to pass the scheme.

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