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Squatters threaten Paul Davis plans

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Construction on this £2.3 million project by Paul Davis & Partners has been unexpectedly delayed - due to the inhabitancy of a renegade band of squatters.

'The Circle Community' moved into St George's Church in Tufnell Park, north London, the month after the scheme received planning permission for its first phase of renovation in August 2004 - and is refusing to budge.

It is feared that the squatters are now thinking of taking their plans to stay to the European Court of Justice, but this effort has been downplayed by the architect as a 'last port of call'.

The eviction process is being spearheaded by the church's owner, the 'House of the Rock', an evangelical church which originated in Nigeria.

The church and the architect are hopeful that the squatters - who are currently using the church as a performance space and to provide acting classes and juggling lessons - will be evicted in time for construction to begin in the next two to three weeks.

The owner proposes to return the church from a redundant theatre to its original use as a place of worship. The work includes the refurbishment of the Grade II-listed building (pictured). It also features the reinstatement of ornamental leaded lights and the construction of a new 800m 2extension.

Project architect Hugh Kidman, from Paul Davis & Partners said: 'The whole idea of the project was that the church wanted to establish a new base to hold meetings and where they could have a media centre to broadcast to various channels.'

Designs for the second phase - the new build - were granted planning permission on 14 February, and are currently at the RIBA Stage E. Plans will be worked up fully when the squatters move out, with contractors ideally being appointed two to three months later.

by Rob Sharp

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