Better Archway Forum submits rival plans to develop Archway Methodist Hall - and wants to keep it as arts venue
PUBLISHED: 16:06 21 January 2019
A community group has submitted a rival planning application to develop Archway Methodist Hall and turn it into an arts venue.
The Better Archway Forum has been campaigning for the dilapidated former church hall to be brought back into community use since 2015, when plans to turn it into flats fell through.
In December plans were submitted by architect firm White Arkitekter to flatten the Archway Road site and build a six-storey energy-efficient office block for “local businesses”.
That came as a shock to many, as the same firm had said early last year the plans would include community and theatre space.
A spokesperson for the architects and owners Flowervale said the absence of community space was because talks fell through with Tall Stories Theatre Group and the forum and there was no viable tenant.
The spokersperson added: “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.”
But architect Adrian Betham, a member of the forum, said the plans fell through because the “useable arts space” offered was at best a lecture hall.
“What they offered wasn’t viable,” he said. “It was one big lecture theatre. You could use it as a conference centre for local hotels but couldn’t use it for exhibitions or dance shows.”
He has now drawn up his own designs, which would keep to the methodists’ original ethos of it being open to all.
He told the Gazette: “Our design retains the well regarded locally listed building and provides for the local community’s arts needs.”
We want to use that but broaden the scope with community and arts activities and provide a full week
The plans would be fully compliant with council policy and improve the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating from below 30 per cent to higher than 70pc, which the council requires.
If given the green light, the project could be financed by major international arts organisations, plenty of which have held talks with the forum.
“It is financially viable but we can’t raise the money until we have approval,” Adrian added.