Kilburn church turns to mobile phone masts to raise cash

Roof works leaves St Augustine’s Church with a financial blackhole

A Kilburn church is seeking planning approval to place four mobile phone masts in the upper louviers in a bid to raise much-needed cash.

St Augustine’s Church, in Kilburn Park Road, which is often referred to as the cathedral of north London, made a decision to go forward with an application in March after running costs and dwindling reserves proved difficult to deal with.

Fr Colin Amos, vicar of St Augustine’s, said: “The Parish works closely in the Diocese of London in identifying opportunities to raise the necessary income to keep St Augustine’s open for the local community.

“It costs more than �100,000 a year simply to keep the doors open. The Parish was recently informed that its buildings insurance renewal premium for the coming year would be �28,956.71 and its contribution to the diocese of London is �58,000.

“We have no historic funds or trusts and indeed, the Parish’s entire cash reserves are shortly to be depleted by urgent works on the roof, presently estimated to cost the Parochial Church Council (PCC) more than �58,000.

“Currently we are reliant on congregational giving – modestly supplemented by occasional filming and recording in the church – to meet these costs and there is a huge shortfall.”

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The possibility of putting masts in the church was first explored in March this year when the PCC – the democratically elected body responsible for the mission of the church in the Parish and the maintenance of the building – decided to formerly investigate the proposals.

In August this year, the PCC then put forward a Petition for a Faculty – the formal process to secure permission in the Ecclesiastical Courts – and put up signs to consult with parishioners.

Fr Amos said the building would have to undergo some works but stressed that all of it would be reversible, none would damage the structure and that he was ready to listen to any concerns parishioners and residents may have.

Ed Fordham, Kilburn historian, said that he was disappointed to hear about the plans and questioned the need for the masts in this location.

He said: “It is probably one of the finest buildings in North London and one of the most unknown. When these masts go in, the church will become more well-known but not, I fear, for the right reasons.

“My issue with mobile phone masts is the exact location. Given the concerns over masts and the possible effects on health, is it good for the church to take them in?”