'Shocked': Church, nursery and foodbank evicted by developer

Front of church

The developers entered the property on Wednesday morning and changed all of the locks. - Credit: The Mayor’s Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation

The Pentecostal City Mission Church in Willesden has been evicted by a developer.

Fruition Properties evicted the church on Scrubs Lane without warning on Wednesday, March 23. The developers entered the building at 7.30am and changed the locks, leaving parents unable to drop off their children at the nursery and staff unable to retrieve personal belongings.

The Mission is a registered community asset and operates a nursery, foodbank, dementia care and other local community services.

Fruition sought planning permission in 2018 to knock down the church and build a mixed-use, 20-storey development. This would include 85 "residential units", a cafe or restaurant, a retail space, nursery and place of worship. A condition of its approval was that the secure replacement space for the church and associated services as part of the new development.

City Mission Friday Youth Club.

City Mission Friday Youth Club. - Credit: Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation

The mayor’s Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation is the local planning authority, as the property is part of a strategic development site.

Reverend Desmond Hall, of Pentecostal City Mission Church, said: “We are shocked and saddened that Fruition took possession of this beloved church and vital lifeline for so many community members

Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, said: “It’s unacceptable and quite frankly unbelievable news to hear that a developer has evicted a church, nursery and foodbank at a time where so many families are under financial strain to put food on the table.

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"I have made my position to Fruition abundantly clear on numerous occasions and they have refused to meet to reach a solution, despite the planning policy clearly requiring provision for the church.”

A spokesperson for Scrubs Lane Limited, the landowner that owns the property, said: “We have been in discussions with the church for over two years regarding leases, occupational rights and either late or non-payment of occupational charges, even at a reduced rent.

"We regret the current situation, but we have been unable to come to a mutually acceptable agreement on how to move forward together.

"This is not a decision we take lightly, and we are working to see how the nursery can be re-provided and are exploring options for how the foodbank could be relocated within the local area.”