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Neglected Archway church hall could find new life as a theatre

PUBLISHED: 15:34 10 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:04 10 November 2016

Archway Methodist Hall could become a theatre

Archway Methodist Hall could become a theatre

Archant

Google the phrase "culture in Archway" and you will be directed to websites about arches in Chinese and Moorish culture, but next to nothing about Islington's most maligned neighbourhood.

A group of neighbours hope that this could change in the not-too-distant future as they take their project to turn Archway Methodist Hall into an arts venue to the next stage.

The Better Archway Forum hopes to turn the building into a theatre with seating for between 350 and 450 people – and a home for professional and amateur arts organisations offering dance, music and theatre classes, perfor mances and exhibitions.

The hall was built in 1934 with funds from passionate Methodist and British film legend J Arthur Rank, who is credited with influencing the cinema-like design of the building. The Methodists sold the site in 2001.

The building has been empty, aside from property guardians, since 1989 and is owned by a Gibraltar-based company, according to Adrian Betham, an architect and Better Archway Forum member working on the planning application. It has been classified as a “community asset in difficult ownership”.

A bid to demolish the building within the façade and turn it into flats fell through and neighbours are keen to keep the building in the community.

“The local support is widespread for bringing the building back into a community use, both from the local population and from the councillors, because the demand for community spaces is increasing and availability is decreasing,” said Adrian.

If planning permission is granted, the stiff task of fundraising to buy and renovate the building will begin.

Adrian estimates there is £4m worth of work to do on the building for it to be fit for the intended purpose.

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