An Islamic educational charity has paid over £4 million to purchase the vacant 1,000 seat Brethren's meeting room at the Arkley end of Mays Lane, Barnet.
The sale of the property, which is within the Green Belt, and which has 160 parking spaces, was completed on Friday 6 October.
Commercial estate agents Alex Martin told the Barnet Society that the charity, Markaz-Eltathgheef-Eleslami -- the Centre for Islamic Enlightening -- paid in excess of the suggested price of £4 million.
The aim of the charity – as set out on the Charity Commission’s website – is to promote the advancement of the Islamic religion and stage religious activities for children, young people, and the elderly.
This would be done through the promotion of the religious customs and festivities of the Islamic faith and by advancing the public’s education of the Islamic religion and culture.
The Brethren built their meeting house in Mays Lane in the 1990s after moving there from their previous premises in Union Street, Barnet.
In addition to the car park, there are lawns within the meeting hall site which extends to a total of 3.2 acres.
An adjoining 1.97 acres of land was sold recently by the Brethren and is now the subject of a controversial planning application as the proposed site for two caravans for residential use, together with hardstanding and adjoining dayrooms.
Over 1,000 objections had been registered to the application on Barnet Council’s planning website when responses closed.
Nearby residents are hotly contesting the application on the grounds that it would be an unwelcome incursion into the Green Belt and surrounding fields and woodland.
Currently the land is being used as a paddock for grazing horses. It was sold at auction for £491,000.
In promoting the sale of the Brethren’s meeting room, agents Alex Martin said the building and surrounding land –which was being sold with vacant possession – was ideal for continued religious or educational use.
The agents said the site also offered potential for development and it is understood that it had attracted interest from developers.
Under present planning law the meeting room could be demolished and redeveloped for housing.
In 2021 the Brethren’s Gospel Hall Trust asked Barnet Council to release their Mays Lane site from Green Belt restrictions to allow for new housing and for the delivery of “family sized homes.”
Previously, in 1989, Barnet Council did agree as a “one off” that a former pig farm on the opposite side of the road to the Brethren’s meeting room could be redeveloped to provide an estate of 21 houses that became Partridge Close.