Thousands have backed a petition calling to save a temple from relocation.

The Shaolin Temple in Junction Road, Tufnell Park, is at risk of having to find a new home as its lease is set to expire in 2026.

Islington Council has proposed in its draft local plan that the temple and three sites could be used to introduce seven pitches for the Gypsy and traveller community.

However nearly 6,000 people have signed an online petition titled ‘Save the Shaolin Temple UK’, which cites the hundreds it has served in the community for years.

Islington Gazette: Grandmaster Shi Yong Xin in 2014Grandmaster Shi Yong Xin in 2014 (Image: Archant)

The temple, said to be the only Shaolin Chan Buddhism Temple in the UK, is described as an “influential community centre” in Islington and is also a registered charity.

Founded in 1988 by Grandmaster Shifu Shi Yanzi, the temple was established to promote the study of Chan Buddhism wisdom and techniques.

He described how he had found his "life's purpose" in building something "impressive and inspiring" in the UK after attending the Shaolin Temple China at 16 and seeing other religions' places of worhship.

He added: “I could lose everything I have worked hard for. My life will be destroyed and my life purpose shattered.

Islington Gazette: The Abbot of the Shaolin Temple in China, Shi Yong Xin, in 2014The Abbot of the Shaolin Temple in China, Shi Yong Xin, in 2014 (Image: Archant)

“This place which has been the spiritual sanctuary for the many people who have stepped through the doors of Shaolin Temple UK over the years will be gone.”

In 2014, the UK temple was blessed to become a sacred and spiritual place for the community.

The site was previously put forward by Transport for London (TfL) as a housing site and was allocated in earlier drafts for “residential development”. Previous consultations during 2018 and 2019 raised no objections.

According to the grandmaster, it would take him years to rebuild a temple elsewhere what it is now.

Islington Gazette: Inside the temple in 2014Inside the temple in 2014 (Image: Archant)

He said: “Shaolin Temple UK cannot be moved, it would be a huge loss to the community and a sacred building would be gone forever."

Islington Council says it is committed to create a “more equal borough”.

A spokesperson said: “The council’s local plan is an important document which, when agreed with the Government, allows the council to hold developers to a high standard in the borough, including the requirement for 50 per cent genuinely affordable homes.”

The council continued: “We are aware that Shaolin Temple UK serves an important community and religious function, and are committed to working with them to identify a new site that is at least an equivalent standard and is as close as possible to the current site.

“The identification of such a site would need to take place before the premises can be redeveloped into a gypsy and traveller site.”

A public consultation on modifications to the local plan will remain open until Sunday (October 30).

Comments can be made by emailing:

To sign the public petition, visit: