Harlesden church faces eviction amid Old Common regeneration
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A community church in Harlesden is at risk of being evicted as campaigners fear it could be lost for good.
A petition is calling on planning authority Old Oak and Park Royal Development Cooperation (OPDC) to protect Pentecostal City Mission Church, in Scrubs Lane, from being booted out by developers.
There are plans to build 85 new homes at the site, alongside a new nursery, food bank and place of worship.
A condition attached to the 2018 planning permission said that space would be given to the church as it is considered an important community asset for the area.
The petition reads: “This is a registered Asset of Community Value and a key social hub in the area.
“The owner and developer, Scrubs Lane Limited (Fruition Properties), received permission to develop the site from the OPDC, the Mayor’s development corporation in the Old Oak Park Royal Area.
“This was subject to re-providing the church premises and providing alternative accommodation for the church during construction.
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“Urgent arrangements for the protection and re-provision of this valued community asset are requested.”
According to the church’s minister Rev Desmond Hall, it can regularly serve up to 1,000 people and supports groups from communities across the globe.
He explained it is an important place for families, young people and elderly people and it is vital the space is maintained.
An OPDC spokesperson explained that its position has always been to support the church going forward and that it has never approved any sort of eviction.
The spokesperson said: “We have always been very clear that our planning policy absolutely requires that space for the church and associated food bank and nursery are part of the new development.
“Along with local stakeholders and the boroughs, we’re liaising closely with the developer and church to ensure the valuable community services provided can be safeguarded.”
A spokesperson for Fruition Properties said: “The church’s lease at 2 Scrubs Lane ran out over 18 months ago, when they were due to move to the new premises which they confirmed in writing that they had secured.
“However, they have not left and have not paid anything to the owner, Scrubs Lane Limited, since."
The company said it had tried to be "accommodating" by allowing them to stay over the pandemic.
They 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.”
To sign the petition visit: www.surveymonkey.com/r/WRJZCSK