Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Shaftesbury Hall Demolition Planning Appeal

After Haringey council refused planning permission for the demolition of Shaftesbury Hall (pictured above) earlier this year, the owners, the charity The Samaritans, have lodged an appeal against the decision. The Appeal hearing will take place at 10 am on 2nd December at Haringey Civic Centre, Wood Green.

The building is what is known as a ‘tin tabernacle’. These chapels sprang up from the 1870’s onwards all across the country, where housing estates were built, to cater for the religious needs of the people of all denominations. There are still over a thousand of these chapels remaining. See here for more information on these constructions

Shaftesbury Hall must have been built in the 1880’s as the surrounding houses date from that time. It is part of the heritage of the Bounds Green area.

The Samaritans who own the building now, want to demolish it and build a new office and several flats above. I attended the open day in the hall before the original (refused) planning application, where we were shown a model of the proposed new building, and could talk to the architect. Every one of the local residents in attendance objected to the design of the new construction, one saying that it would not look out of place on an industrial estate. It would look completely out of place alongside a row of houses built in the 1880’s.

Haringey council refused planning permission on the grounds of the building not fitting in with the surrounding architecture and that 24 hour opening of the office would be incompatible within a residential area.

Personally, I do not object to 24 hour opening, as if anything it would make the area seem a little safer at night, but the design of the new building would spoil the look of the road. I had always thought the tin tabernacle looked pretty ugly, but it is certainly better than what is proposed to replace it. I have also since learnt about the history of these mini churches, and think there is a heritage value to it.

The Samaritans do much good work, but I think it would be a mistake to demolish this building. It would be good if the hall could be put to some partial community use, but either way, I hope this appeal fails.

No comments: