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Camden News - by TOM FOOT and ELINOR ZUKE
Published: 3 July 2008

Artist’s impression of the redeveloped church
‘Monster’ church with flats on top sparks unholy row

‘It’s sad this is what 2,000 years of tradition comes down to’

IT might look like the latest block of trendy luxury flats planned for Camden Town, but these are homes with a difference, and the cross in the front garden is the giveaway clue.
This artist’s impression is how Father Bruce Batstone sees the future of St Paul’s Church in Camden Square, but the redevelopment plan has angered neighbours.
His team have worked with a property developer on plans for four floors of flats – a mix of private properties and affordable housing – which would sit on top of a new-look, ground-floor church.
Father Batstone said: “We believe this is the best and most realistic way in which we can foster community, offer our space and be responsible stewards of our resources.”
St Paul’s is working on its first major redevelopment plan since it was damaged in the Second World War and rebuilt afterwards as a single-storey building, initially planned to be temporary.
A partnership with developers is seen as a way of providing funding for the redevelopment. Judy Powell, the church’s chaplain who has helped organise the project, added: “We want something elegant-looking, a graceful building to show the church’s presence. We won’t have a spire – but there will be a cross. We do not want to make lots of money by building a skyscraper.”
The church hall, used by dozens of community groups, would be retained under the plans.
The church maintains the new building will be the same height as it was before the wartime bombings but neighbours who have seen the designs have been startled by the proposed size of the development.
Daniel Britten, who lives in Camden Square, said: “Frankly, the design is hideous. When I think of the glories of St Peter’s, and St Paul’s Cathedral, it is sad to see that this is what 2,000 years of Western ecclesiastical architectural tradition finally comes down to.”
He added: “Either they should rebuild the church in keeping with its original pre-war design or go all-out for commercial development.”
Stephen Weiss, who lives in Camden Square, said: “I am sure most people would not oppose a well-designed redevelopment, in keeping with local architecture. What seems to be planned, however, is a monster.”
James Callaghan, who lives in Camden Park Road, said: “If they genuinely put in affordable housing that’s good, but I’m not sure about luxury flats. Lots of groups use the centre, for yoga, old people’s exercise classes. There’s got to be space for those groups in something that size.”
The number of flats in the development has yet to be decided but Ms Powell insisted there would be “more affordable than luxury” and that the church would have complete control over the development.
Designs will be on view to the public at St Paul’s Church from 2pm to 6pm from Tuesday to Thursday and from 7pm to 9pm on July 17, 19 and 20.

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Looks a good development and glad to hear of affordable houseing. It is good the community hall is to be retained.
Tim Harvey


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