Camden Council asks for £1.5m to spare Highgate’s Gospel Mission Hall from the builders

"Please see sense" say protesters, concerned about the demolition of the centre. Picture; Frank Chal

"Please see sense" say protesters, concerned about the demolition of the centre. Picture; Frank Chalmers - Credit: Frank Chalmers

Campaigners hoping to save the Gospel Mission Hall have been told they can stop it being turned into houses – by buying it from the council for £1.5million.

The Save the People’s Hall Group, made up of people who used to take part in a weekly pilates group in the hall in Winscombe Street, met the council a few weeks ago where they got the news.

The hall is part of Camden Council’s community investment programme (CIP) plans for the Highgate Newtown Community Centre site. These would see 41 homes built on the site, and a new community centre provided.

Tamar Swade, who has run the pilates group for a decade said: “They intended to turn the hall into two houses, and sell them on for £1.5million.

“It’s vandalism for them to destroy it. It’s a wonderful hall and has amazing acoustics.”

The group is hoping to raise £100,000 by July 31 as “insurance” and a signal of intent that they will be able to raise the sum.

The 74-year-old said the group will also be applying for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help buy it. The facility was also used by the Fresh Youth Academy.

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The site closed in late February, after the council got permission to expand the number of homes on the site from 31 to 42.

The hall was originally donated by Angela Burdett-Coutts.

Tamar said: “It seems a huge amount of money to raise, but I’m hopeful that we can do it. We’re looking for donations of all sizes.”

As well as money, the group is looking for people to volunteer with the campaign, including advising on lottery funding applications and with social media campaigns.

The group will be holding an event on June 1 in the hall to raise awareness.

Camden’s cabinet member in charge of CIP, Cllr Danny Beales, said: “It is our intention to create two homes from the Gospel Hall, raising £1.5m towards rebuilding the new community centre, youth centre, seven Camden living rent homes and improving the public realm. However, we are open to the option of a recognised stakeholder purchasing the hall to raise this amount.”

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