Christ Church Highbury’s new community centre gets green light from Islington Council

An artists’ impression of the new community centre by Christ Church Highbury in Islington. Photograph: Islington Council

Christ Church in Highbury will get a new community centre with a café, four new trees and 14 bicycle parking spaces in plans approved by Islington Council.

The single-storey centre next to the Grade II listed Anglican church off Highbury Grove was approved on Tuesday (27 March) by Islington’s planning sub-committee A.

It means the Junior Church can move out of the vicarage’s basement and into the new building, along with other community events and administration.

Labour councillor Osh Gantly, of Highbury East ward, took the unusual step of excusing herself from the planning panel and speaking in support of the application from the floor.

She paid tribute to Christ Church’s work and its role as the heart of the community, adding: “This attractive low-rise development will allow that good work to flourish and continue in the future.”

Christ Church Highbury is a Grade II listed building. Photograph: Islington Council

The new centre will have a main hall which can be split into two rooms, two offices, two toilets, a shop, a kitchen, and a café with a hatch to serve “light refreshments” to passers by on Highbury Fields.

It will be made of “buff-coloured gault brick with bronze aluminium trims”, and will have a flat roof with five circular roof lights.

The plans also include a permanent ramp into the church for wheelchairs, new metal gates across the car entrance, a new paved courtyard and 14 parking spaces for bicycles.

Four trees will be removed in the plans and replaced with four new trees in the vicarage garden, which will also hide the new building to make the view from the street more attractive.

The plans were also praised by committee members Cllr Tim Nichols of Junction ward, committee chair Cllr Angela Picknell of St Mary’s ward, and Cllr Jenny Kay of Mildmay ward, who was standing in for a regular committee member.

The council officers’ report to the committee called the plans a “significant improvement to this part of the church premises”.