Published: 29 January 2010
by PETER GRUNER
A HOLLOWAY vicar celebrated this week after planners finally approved a £4million bid to restore his church after almost four years of arguments.
The Rev Jonathan Rust had sought permission to restore Grade I-listed St David’s Church, in Westbourne Road, creating a new community centre and vicarage. The restoration will be paid for by building an adjacent six-storey block of 40 private flats.
The community centre will provide facilities for teenagers, young mothers, pensioners and rehabilitated former prisoners. Mr Rust said: “We want a state-of-the-art community centre where anyone coming in can feel that someone cares about them.”
Residents had concerns about the height of the planned flats – originally seven storeys – but the main objection from Islington Council’s Labour-controlled west area planning committee was that with 13,000 people on the homes waiting list the scheme did not contain any affordable housing.
On Tuesday night, Mr Rust, backed by a dozen supporters, appealed to councillors to support a newly-devised scheme with a 30 per cent ratio of affordable homes.
Labour councillor Paul Convery, the committee chairman, said that while the affordable homes ratio was an improvement, it did not meet the target of 50 per cent. “However, I recognise the important work of the church in the community, and I can see the benefits in agreeing to this scheme,” he added.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Rust said: “There have been several years of negotiations with Islington Council to get where we are today. This will be a major benefit to the community and we are looking forward to getting on with it.”