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Little harmony on day of rest: An Evangelical church in Loughborough Junction has disturbed the peace.


Southwell Road is known for its tight-knit, mixed community, it is an interesting and  dynamic street in Loughborough Junction. The sense of identity and community among locals remains strong. Into this tranquil street, a Evangelical church has opened in place of the old printers with no apparent concern for the neighbours and possibly with out any consultation with the local council.

Since the church started operating, there has been a flood of complaints from residents. First,  it was the antisocial hours or meetings which continued late into the night to around 2am, and when a local resident approached them to quiet down he was rebuffed with aggression. Then there is the noise from the Sunday service, which lasted for over 2 hours.  Then there were the problems with traffic and parking, and then finally the noises people make leaving the church.

Above all though, were the church organisers granted the change of use by the local council from a commercial space to a place of worship? If not, the Planning Department at Lambeth can restrict the use – (We are aware that they have been contacted). If a change of use is applied for, then the local residents have the opportunity to object.

The local residents whilst they have no objection to Evangelist churches are opposed to this church in such a residential and inappropriate street. Cars are parked across the pavements and noise emanates late into the night throughout the week and on Sundays, this is not a recipe for community cohesion.

Neighbours have contacted the Council to see if change of use was properly applied for and granted; many suspect it was not. With all best intentions we are hopeful that this can be resolved legally and amicably for the benefit of Southwell road.


Author: loughboroughjunction

The Loughborough Junction Forum is a grassroots organisation set up by local people to provide all members of the community with a way to improve the Loughborough Junction area. It is intended that it provides eyes, ears and a collective voice for the community. All participants are invited to provide accounts of what they see happening within the area and to share their concerns and ideas with the forum so that they can be collated and channelled to the relevant authorities.

7 thoughts on “Little harmony on day of rest: An Evangelical church in Loughborough Junction has disturbed the peace.

  1. Below are the letters and replies sent to Paul, regarding the planning issues and change of use at 24-36 Southwell Road.

    Can I also take this chance to ask you to log any noise, traffic etc so that its on record as nuisance if they apply for a change of use.


    Dear Sir / Madam,

    I am writing to enquire about the business premises at 24 – 36 Southwell Road SE5. This was formally the site of a printing business. Would I be correct in assuming that this site is listed as being for B1 use and that no application has been put in for a change to a D1 use as a place of worship.
    Would it also be possible to find out the council’s policy on change of use from B1 to D1 as many of the industrial and business spaces in the area are now being used as places of worship and are no longer providing employment in the Loughborough Junction area.
    Please let me know if I need to make a Freedom of Information request to get this information so I can make that request as soon as possible.
    I have cc’d this email to my local councillors, the loughborough Junction Action Group and the SE5 forum for Camberwell.
    Paul Adlam


    Dear Paul,

    An inspection of the records on our planning system does not show any recent applications on this site. The only record shown on the system for 26-34 Southwell Road is for “Erection of a single storey ground floor rear infill extension” and this dates from 1988. Previous paper records to that suggest that the legal use would be as B1 usage although a full investigation would be needed to determine the current situation.

    The planning policies of Lambeth Council are published in our Unitary Development Plan which is available on our website. I have copied in my colleague Dave Thompson, Deputy Team Leader for the North Team as he may be able to provide further guidance on the specific policies relevant to the change of use you mention.

    You would not need to make a formal Freedom of information request to obtain this information as most is available for public viewing as a matter of course.


    Toby Hamilton
    Lambeth Planning
    Regeneration, Housing and Environment

    Tel: 020 7926 1180
    Fax: 020 7926 1171
    e-mail: CEDTPAC@lambeth.gov.uk
    website: http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/planning


    Phoenix House
    10 Wandsworth Road
    SW8 2LL

    Dear Toby
    Thanks for your full and prompt response. How would an investigation of current use be instigated? There is some disquiet in the street about what is going on at the building and the issues with parking and blocking of pavements that it is already causing.
    Regards Paul


    Dear Paul,

    An investigation into the use of the site would be instigated if our enforcement team receives an enquiry on the matter. Details of the enforcement process and how to report an issue to the enforcement team can be found on the Lambeth website on the following page:


    I have also copied in Bobby Lee who provides administration support to the enforcement team and should be able to answer any questions you may have on the enforcement process.


    Toby Hamilton


    Dear Mr Adlam,

    I write further to your recent request for service in relation to the change of use of the above property, to advise you that an enforcement case has been set up and passed over to an officer to investigate further. Please see attached letter which provides further information and contact details of the officer assigned to this case.

    Kind regards

    Bobby Lee
    Senior Enforcement & Appeals Administrator
    Planning Division
    Housing, Regeneration & Environment
    London Borough of Lambeth
    phone: 020 7926 1185
    fax: 020 7926 1171
    email: blee@lambeth.gov.uk
    website: http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/planning

    Phoenix House, 10 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LL
    Making a difference

    Disclaimers apply for full details see http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/EmailDisclaimer.htm


    Dear Mr Paul Adlam

    This letter is about the investigation of an alleged breach of planning control

    Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)
    Reference: EN/10/00124/3COU
    Address: Graphite House, 26-34 Southwell Road, London SE5 9PG
    Subject: Change Of Use Into Place Of Worship

    I write further to receipt of your enquiry regarding the above alleged breach of planning control. The following information shows details of the officer investigating the case and their contact details. Where possible, please use email to contact the officer

    Officer: Mr Robert Dewhurst

    Please find enclosed a copy of the Planning Enforcement Protocol which explains the processes and procedures involved in resolving the case. The case will always be investigated in line with government guidance and will normally follow the process outlined in Annex 1. Every enforcement case is different and therefore each investigation will be different. However, the general procedure and approach will tend to remain the same.

    What happens next?
    If the investigation concludes that no breach of planning control appears to have occurred, the case officer will contact you in writing to inform you of this and will provide reasons as to why no breach of planning control appears to have occurred in this case. If the investigation concludes that a breach of planning control may have occurred, the officer will attempt to enter into negotiations with the landowner or the developer. Please note that Central Government Guidance on planning enforcement matters clearly advises that Local Planning Authorities (LPA) should first attempt to resolve breaches of planning control informally through negotiation or through the retrospective planning application process. However, there may be instances where more urgent action is needed.

    Please bear in mind that planning enforcement cases can take a considerable period of time to resolve informally, or through the planning application process. They can take even longer if the LPA considers it necessary and expedient to take formal planning enforcement action. If at any stage you have information you feel may be of use, or if you would like an update on the case please do not hesitate to contact the case officer, preferably by email. The planning enforcement process can be technically complex and issues can take some time to resolve. If you are having difficulties contacting the case officer, please do not hesitate to contact me on the details given below.

    If you have not already done so, I would appreciate it if you could confirm to the case officer when the unauthorised development commenced. Please be assured that your enquiry will be dealt with in confidence and thank you for your time and patience in this matter.

    Yours sincerely

    Mr Bobby Lee

    Senior Enforcement & Appeals Administrator

  2. Thanks for putting this up. I feel a great deal of sympathy for the residents of Southwell Road who are inconvenienced like this – it is absolutely outrageous that these loud churches can be allowed to set up in residential communities and behave so anti-socially. If it is proved they are acting against planning regulations (as seems likely from the above email trail), I hope they will be kicked out immediately and you can all get some peace and quiet.

    There is a wider issue here with the dense population of Evangelical churches in Loughborough Junction and Camberwell and I think local residents are reaching a tipping point regarding how much we can take. We need action to convince Lambeth Council we have enough of these now and they need a proper planning policy for our area.

  3. Well this just goes to show that Loughborough Junction shares some of the features of Detroit. I remember walking through Detroit from the centre through to the Eight Mile Road. Starting at the semi-derelict portakabin train station (single track service to Toronto in one direction and Chicago in the other) – I think they had demolished the original central station (although in St Louis they turned theirs into a shopping mall [what else?]).

    Most of central Detroit got raised to the ground in the 1967 riots, and certainly by 1993 nothing had been done about that. A waste land. Further out were black suburbs with huge wooden framed detached house going for $12-15,000 (presumably subsequently victims of sub prime mortgages!)

    Further out again were grassy suburbs with private security guards. Places like central hospitals and schools were impressively large, looked a bit in need of maintenance and tended to attract beggars.

    Where the Loughborough Junction connection comes in is the way shopping streets had only two types of esblishments – “Party Shops” (what we call 24 hour grocery/off-licences) and CHURCHES. Churches with Neon crosses – all sorts of seedy vulgarity.

    There would be a “Coalition” style solution to this – make churches into regulated taxable bodies, like they are in France. At present any organisation purporting to e a church is effectively a tax-free business automatically recognised by the charity commission. However if you did this to African and West Indian churches it would be necessary to also do it to the Catholics, the Church of England etc. Can’t see that going down too well in the Hose of Lords.

    So what happened in the case of Southwell Road? Maybe the council should consider making available certain neglected industrial sites away from residential areas for noisy and late-night churches. Unfortnately in years gone by Lambeth Planning were over strict in defending “employment generating sites” – they would prefer a used car tyre seller, or a car wash to a church. Now they seem to have gone to the other extreme and allow housebuilders, public and private, to take over everything.
    Maybe their section 106 policies should include making SOUND PROOF places of worship availble near dense urban developments (Really)!

  4. Hi There
    I feel a embarrassed by the testimony and the attitude of the church mentioned obviously I don’t have both sides of the story
    but I do understand the situation very well. I went to a church many years that was actually a church building in a residential road. We had the same problems people getting home from work and can’t park their cars,noise after the services beeping of horns.
    The truth is the church began to get the blame for anything bad that was happening on the street. I now have my own church and we are about to move into a building that does not have the right usage, the difference in our case is the building is right in the middle of town with no residents around.

    I would like to point out that not everyone who says they are functioning as a church are a church just take the attitude of the using a building in the wrong with no thought for the people they are suppose to serve

  5. Thanks for that post David, an interesting comparison and a valuable addition to the thread.

  6. You are my breathing in, I own few blogs and often run out from post :).

  7. And…what is the point here?
    What is the name of the church?

    This is not a defence for rude christians but a genuine question

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