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Lambeth Mission Church Redevelopment opportunity for multi-purpose community space

Reverend Andy

Lambeth Mission and St Mary’s Church, situated on the corner of Lambeth Road near Lambeth North underground station, is in the process of applying for planning permission for a bold new redevelopment. The current building was constructed in the 1950s, the original building having been bombed during the Blitz. With rationing still in force, materials for rebuilding were scant and the building has not weathered the test of time well. The dilapidated church is difficult to maintain and repair, is highly energy inefficient and unsuitable for disabled visitors.

Reverend Andy Lyons has been the minister of Lambeth Mission since last September, when he took over the planning application started by his predecessor. The plans for the new building are innovative. The new church building will have four stories, a church hall taking the first two, a multi-purpose community space on the third floor, and flats on the fourth. Currently, the church’s two halls are beside one another; in the new plans, the land of the second hall will be converted to a hotel. This new hotel will provide revenue to the church for the redevelopment – estimated at some £3-4m and for its upkeep. Beyond the benefits of an accessible, well-heated and more aesthetically attractive church to Lambeth Mission’s 80-strong congregation, to Reverend Andy the most important aspect of the redevelopment is its potential to provide a new multi-purpose community space for the local area. Part of the hotel’s revenue will be channelled into funding one or more community workers, who will be responsible for identifying needs in the local community and arranging clubs, lunches and events in the new space to help respond to them. While decisions on how best to use the space will be deferred until planning is approved and community research undertaken, Reverend Andy foresees a role for Lambeth Mission in catering the socially isolated and in particular older members of the community. Reverend Andy also envisages the church becoming a cultural centre – hosting art and photography shows within the new hall, and with musical and dramatic shows on the new stage. A multi-sensory roof-garden atop the church foyer would be accessible to local primary school children and the community space and new AV facilities could be made available to local charities for training, events, and AGMs.

One of the church halls

A vital part of the redevelopment would be improved facilities. Currently, Lambeth Mission is one of thirty churches which take part in a Lambeth Borough- wide scheme to house around 20 homeless people on a rota during the winter months. The current bathroom and kitchen facilities are no longer fit for purpose either for these existing community projects or the congregation.

Lambeth Mission’s proposals have enjoyed good support from the congregation, local people, and local councillors. Some concerns voiced by nearby residents have been taken into account by the developers, by lowering the height of the hotel to match the adjacent building. If you’re a local resident and want to show your support, or voice any concerns about the project, you are encouraged to write to the planners and/or the local authority.

As Reverend Andy waits for 14 December, when Lambeth Mission is expected to be given a date to take their proposals to the planning committee, he explains that “the great hope is here that we can build a truly good modern building, one that is environmentally friendly and properly built to modern standards that won’t just be a church for 80, but a multi-purpose community space.” While previous plans for redevelopment the have been proposed over the past decade, none have proven viable. With these new and innovative plans, Reverend Andy hopes that this time the story will continue.

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