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Archway Methodist Hall could become energy-efficient office block – but no plans for community space

PUBLISHED: 10:58 13 December 2018

An artist's impression of the new Archway Central Hall. Picture: AVR London

An artist's impression of the new Archway Central Hall. Picture: AVR London

© AVR London Ltd 2018

Plans have finally been submitted to demolish the historic Archway Methodist Hall and rebuild it – but promised arts space has vanished from the designs.

In March the Gazette revealed Scandinavian architect firm White Arkitekter had drawn up plans to turn the dilapidated former church hall into a 400-capacity community and theatre space with offices above.

Now, though, the architects have submitted plans simply for a six-storey energy-efficient office block “for local businesses”.

When asked where the community space had gone, a spokesperson for White Arkitekter and owners Flowervale said: “The cultural space was previously showcased in a public consultation, on the basis the Tall Stories Theatre Group in conjunction with Better Archway Forum would be interested in taking the completed space.

“Unfortunately, this group was unable to commit to taking the space and subsequently withdrew their interest. Without a viable tenant, the developer was forced to rethink.

“Since a cultural facility was not required under Islington planning policy, the team came up with a proposal to meet a very definite need in the area – that of high quality office space, bringing employment to the area.”

Adrian Betham, of the Better Archway Forum, said the reason the talks fell through was that the plans did not include “useable arts space” and at best it was a lecture hall. Now, the forum will submit its own plans for the building.

Adrian said: “In the absence of meaningful attempt to accommodate continued community and cultural use we shall proceed to submission of our own application which is for the financially viable re-use of the existing building adapted to modern needs.”

Bringing the hall back into public use has been a long time coming. It’s been empty, aside from property guardians, since 1989.

A bid to demolish the building and turn it into flats fell through in 2015 – when the forum began its campaign for it to be used as an arts venue.

The architects spokesperson added: “The provision of business space helps alleviate the considerable loss of office space in Islington due to the office-to-residential permitted development rights. Archway alone has lost almost 100,000 sq ft.”

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