The end is finally in site for a long running battle to find a use for a former Brentford church which also used to house the town’s musical museum.

St George’s Church, on the border of High Street and Kew Bridge Road, has lain empty since 2007 when The Musical Museum which had occupied it since 1963 relocated to a purpose-built site further down the road.

Now after several false starts hoardings are up and initial enabling works are being carried out in preparation to convert the building into 14 housing units.

The group behind the project is IDM Properties which became the latest to wade into the saga when it acquired the site in February this year.

The works have become necessary now in order to beat the five year deadline before the current planning permission granted in 2009 expires. However, in order to make the scheme more viable IDM is seeking to gain permission to expand from 14 to 21 units.

Hounslow Council’s planning committee is due to meet next month to consider this new application, but in the meantime IDM is working to the original 2009 guidelines and hopes to alter its schedule in light of a positive vote by councillors.

Artist's impression courtesy of IDM Properties showing how St George's church in Brentford will look once converted into housing.
 

Developers had first tried to get their hands on the church in 2000 when an application was made by Barratts to demolish all but the tower and build first a restaurant and leisure complex.

It included the Sarah Trimmer Hall next door, thought to be one of the oldest Sunday Schools in the country, which it intended to convert to a recording and photographic studio.

Later the plans were withdrawn and modified to still eradicate the church, but instead to build 19 housing units in its place.

Much to the horror of local residents and conservation groups the council looked set to approve the demolition in 2003, until a fierce campaign saw Barratts defeated in 2004 - and again when it appealed the decision to the Planning Inspectorate two years later.

The matter lay dormant until 2008 when a new developer surfaced with a plan to partially demolish the church (such as removing chimney stacks and opening up external walls) and convert the Sarah Trimmer Hall into a bungalow.

The church, was built in 1886 by the famous architect AW Blomfield and had seen many weddings and funerals during its lifetime before it closed in 1959 and St Georges merged with St Lawrence and St Pauls in 1961.

IDM properties kindly provided us with this photo showing the long unseen interior of the disused St George's Church and former Musical Museum site.
 

At the time of the new application it was still owned by the Diocese of London and crucially it won backing from groups such as Holland Gardens Residents Association which had previously campaigned against the Barratts scheme.

However, despite permission being granted in 2009 the economic collapse was responsible for the plan being shelved until IDM came onto the scene just as the clock was ticking towards the deadline - at which point a whole new application would be needed from scratch causing yet more delay.

IDM properties kindly provided us with this photo showing the long unseen interior of the disused St George's Church and former Musical Museum site.
 

John Sage, contracts manager for IDM, said his company had a proud history of specialising in converting places of worship into housing and revealed one of his partners had a keen interest in the local area and had been eyeing the St George’s site for some time.

He said: “We started the enabling works about six weeks ago using the original 2009 scheme but have been closely consulting with local people and groups about our new 21 unit plan.

“We’ve had a lot of support from Holland Gardens RA and two local historians and are taking this project very seriously indeed.

“We feel it’s going to be very exciting and are even looking to register it for an award once we have finished.”