Union Chapel gigs under threat from housing development plans


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The Independent Culture

A working church in Islington has become an important live music venue, playing host to stars from Elton John to Noel Gallagher. But gigs at the Union Chapel are under threat from a housing development.

Staff at the Chapel, voted Time Out London readers' Best Live Music Venue 2012, fear that if plans to build 90 homes opposite go ahead then the late-night music concerts could be scaled down or scrapped entirely with neighbours complaining about after hours noise.

They are urging supporters to attend a planning committee at Islington town hall on Monday night at which developers will seek approval for the five storey block of flats.

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition opposing the planning application.

 “The scale and proximity of the planned housing could have a real impact on our operations," a spokesman for the Chapel told the Islington Tribune.

"The late-night nature of much of our work and deliveries could cause noise and traffic complaints from our new neighbours.”

Planning officers have recommended the scheme for approval after it radically scaled down following rejection by the council in July amid concern from conservationists that the facade of the Chapel would be obscured.

Since 1991 the Union Chapel Project, a charity for restoring and running the building, has organised concerts to fund maintenance as well as for its Margins Homelessness Project.

That the Chapel has continued to host both rock stars, audiences and its local congregation harmoniously is a testament to the liberal principles on which it was founded.

According to the Union Chapel's website: "In 1799 a small group of Anglicans from St. Mary's parish church in Islington, dis­illusioned with their worldly vicar, broke away and began to worship with a group of Nonconformists at 18 Highbury Grove. Theirs was a 'Catholic and liberal plan intended to unite Christians of different denomin­ations in religious worship and brotherly affect­ion'."