Fire-ravaged Neasden church hall set to be rebuilt

CGI of the new St Catherine's Church in Neasden after plans approved by council

CGI of the new St Catherine's Church in Neasden after plans approved by council - Credit: Brent Council

A church hall in Neasden that was severely damaged in an arson attack is set to be replaced by a bigger facility after its designs were approved by Brent Council.

The council’s planning committee unanimously approved plans for the scheme at St Catherine’s Church, in Neasden Lane, on Wednesday (June 16).

At around 1,089sqm, its floorspace will be three times the size of the current hall and will feature a main hall, activity studio, community café, nursery, meeting rooms, and a music room.

Councillors pointed out the permission is subject to the submission of a detailed travel plan after they noted a bigger site is likely to put greater pressures on traffic and parking in the area.

Furthermore, both Neasden and Dollis Hill Underground stations are around half a mile away, which could impact visitors’ decisions on whether to use public transport.

Fire tore through St Catherine's church hall (Picture @parvezahmed80)

Fire tore through St Catherine's church hall in Neasden in 2018 - Credit: @parvezahmed80

The hall was built in 1928 and destroyed by the arson attack in September 2018.

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Half the ground floor was damaged, along with the roof.

The hall was used by a number of community groups including the Neasden School of Ballet.

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Rob Harrison, the vicar at St Catherine’s, described the previous hall as “not terribly nice” but one that was always in “full use” which meant he had to turn away potential hirers daily.

He said the new building will have the potential to “catch people’s eye” and be one that “Neasden can be proud of”.

“I hope this will bring regeneration to a rather ugly corner of Neasden and I hope we can put something here that isn’t just for the church but something which genuinely is for the whole community, that will bring it together and enrich it,” he said.

Brent Council officers said the development would not have a negative impact on the surrounding area, including the locally listed church and nearby Grade II listed The Grange, in terms of scale and design.

They added the loss of six trees as part of the building work would be offset by the planting of nine new trees at the site.

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