Hackney Council approves planning permission for St Mary’s of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Church


Raising the roof: A grateful community

It was a long awaited victory, for the parish members and congregation of St Mary of  Zion Ethiopian Orthodox church (also known as St Mary Tserha Sion Ethiopian Tewahedo ) on Tuesday evening, at Hackney Town Hall. The planning sub-committee approved planning permission for their new church at 229 Lower Clapton Road.

Close to 100 supporters packed themselves into the public gallery, and treated members of the council and the public to a spectacle never seen at a sub committee meeting.  Sure it got a little rowdy,  but who could blame the very grateful supporters for being so joyous after a year of waiting for the go ahead from the council to renovate their building.

The group has been embroiled in a “planning war”  with opponents to their renovation plans, who have campaigned hard for years to have the building turned into a cinema, citing one of it’s many uses in the past.

A spattering of representatives of The Hackney Society, Friends of Clapton Cinematography (FCCT), Clapton Arts Trust (CAT), Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group (CPNAG) all made a last ditch attempt, to protest the churches plans. But in the end it was unanimously agreed to grant permission.

A spokesperson for St Marys said last night: “You couldn’t replace the energy from our members inside the chambers. Even council officials and members of the public joined in the clapping for a little while.

“Hackney Council got to see the people the decision affects most, and we complied with all the rules and by-laws. It’s not just a building.

“Now we can get on with building the church we have waited 38 years for”.

Along with being a place of worship, the parish aim to roll out a community plan that will include offering a place of sanctuary to disadvantaged and underachieving youths and those influenced by postcode and gang related crime, by providing positive role models to tackle these issues.  They intend to work with other organizations to achieve a common goal.

Last month the church group brought to Hackney Hive’s attention, what they claimed to be constant harassment from neighbourhood  special  interest groups such as the FCCT and CAT.




About Remi

Remi Hackney Hive founder, publisher and contributor. Hackneyite and all round Girl Friday who couldn't wait to leave Hackney and London behind her. After hitching her wagon in California, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana for 18 years, with a brief spell in Mexico, the prodigal daughter returned to London, happy to put an unconventional and risqué past behind her. It sometimes feels like she’s still at war with herself. This often leads her into a whole lot of trouble, although it’s fair to blame it on some of her best qualities: intelligence, original thinking, willingness to take risks, skepticism, rebelliousness, independence, and creativity. But you know what, much of the trouble she gets into is because she can’t help pointing out that the emperor is naked. Remi still lives by her own rules, nobody else’s. She is owned by her two dogs Deffer(a Jack Russell ) Darcy (a Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix now deceased but can’t remove their names) and two Black cats she adopted December 2021, Desmond and Tutu. She is proprietor of London’s finest and long established pet sitting service. The big smoke is home for the moment, but she desperately yearns wide open spaces, where she hopes to call home in the near future.


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12 Responses to "Hackney Council approves planning permission for St Mary’s of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Church"

  1. I would like to make it clear having been at the meeting and having spoken that neither I nor the Hackney Society had any objection to the plans for the building being used as a church/community space. My objections which are not necessarily that of the Hackney Society are that I didn’t feel the proposals to alter the building were of sufficent design quality or using appropriate materials for a building in a conservation area adjacent to a listed building. This is not to deny the evident heritage of the original church design in Addis Ababa. But what may work in Ethiopia may not be suitable for Clapton. I understand there are conditions on the materials to be used and I fervently wish the very best to the church and it’s community. I do so hope that the finished building will complement the area and is well used and brings together the community in all its wonderfully diverse forms.

    Comment by Kevin Moore on 08/06/2012 at 11:15 am

  2. It’s wonderful to hear the good news after the long wait. Thank you Hackney council for giving the go ahead. The Ethiopian community do appreciate your hard work and the consideration you had to take into account to allow the community bring the historic church to Clapton. No wonder London is the envy of the rest of the continent if not the world.

    Comment by Mekonenn on 15/06/2012 at 5:30 pm

  3. I would like to first thank God for all his faith in us. Also I would like to thank the people of Hackney who have supported us on this journey . And I would like to thank Hackney Hive for accurately reporting the facts and allowing normal local people to have a voice.

    God bless.

    Comment by nathan on 17/06/2012 at 11:08 am

  4. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is of course entitled to its beliefs but it is entirely wrong to give the impression that this group represents anything other than a tiny minority of people in Hackney. Personally I have serious concerns about the fact that by its silence the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church appears to be complcit in the serious abuses of human rights being carried out by the repressive Ethiopian regime. These abuses have been highlighted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and details can be found on their websites.

    Comment by Campbell on 19/06/2012 at 9:40 am

  5. Julia Lafferty why aren’t you woman enough to post under your real name? Being admin on this site I am able to see that your IP address is the same as the one you have posted comments on in the past, using your real name.

    This is an all time low but I am not in the least bit surprised. I’m sure the church can speak for themselves, but I’m going to say this; The church kept a dignified silence because they did not want to get embroiled in a public spat with you, and also because they realised they were dealing with a demented unreasonable woman. My words not theirs.

    Comment by Remi Makinde on 19/06/2012 at 11:05 am

    Read the truth about this building and the lies you have been fed. http://www.hackneyhive.co.uk/index/2012/05/harassed-hounded-and-marginalised-in-hackney-ethiopian-orthodox-church-claims/

    It is clear from Twitter that you were asked by the EOTC to concoct a story to promote their planning application. I provided you with a detailed interview but as this contradicted most of what you wrote in your article, you conveniently ignored what I had said.

    Far from keeping “a dignified silence”, there is proof that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has conducted an unpleasant and anonymous campaign on social networking sites attacking anyone who exercised their right to make representations against their planning application. (You are not the only site administrator keeping tabs on IP addresses).

    Comment by Julia on 19/06/2012 at 12:23 pm

  7. OK put your mouth where your money is and show some proof. Bitter are we?

    Comment by Hackney Hive on 20/06/2012 at 3:09 am

  8. How interesting that you have chosen to censor the first part of my message which I repeat below:

    [Your response has been edited because it contained accusations of someone we are not aware of, and their email address] – HH

    Using the Duchess of Hackney blog and Hackney Hive as your personal fiefdoms, you give free rein to your personal preferences and prejudices. In Ethiopia you would almost certainly be locked up, Amnesty International are currently campaigning on the prison terms handed out to journalists Elias Kifle, Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet Taye. But, according to you, only someone who is “demented” and “unreasonable” would care about that.


    Comment by Julia on 20/06/2012 at 2:07 pm

  9. Julia you are a vile tedious pompous wretch so far up her own backside . People like you are use to having your way and going unchallenged.

    If I were the owners of that building, I would be very afraid, as I have a feeling your deep hatred has no boundaries.

    The fact that you are on the Clapton Community Fund panel is worrying. But you will probably remain on it, because just like vultures all living off the same carcass, “you’re all in it together.”

    Comment by R Makinde on 22/06/2012 at 10:14 am

  10. Well done, Remi.

    You have vanquished two Ponserati matriarchs, Sarah Miller and Julia Lafferty. You may not be very popular with their husbands who have probably had to endure [Edited for extreme colourful phrase]

    Please let me explain what I mean by ‘Ponserati’.

    There is a sect of people who want to live in places like Hackney that are close to central London workplaces and nightlife.

    These people are a sect because they only mix with and tolerate people like themselves.

    They are mostly Russell Group University graduates that have moved to London to take advantage of jobs that only those who have gone to the ‘right’ university have access to.

    In the daytime, they work alongside other Russell Groupers and in the evenings, they meet up with old university friends and go out to pubs in a group and sit around tables only talking to the group they are with, just like they did at university.

    They have the education to work the grant system and to organise campaigns. They hoodwink the council into believing that their groups ‘represent’ the entire neighbourhood instead of just the Ponserati.

    The Ponserati don’t want to live alongside other groups, they want the others to leave. If you like shopping at Tescos, putting money on horses or getting your dinner from a chicken shop, they don’t want you to live near them.

    Maybe its time that Hackney Friends of the Chicken Shop or Clapton Turf Trust got some of the money that goes to Friends of Clapton Cinematography and the Clapton Arts Trust. This seems unlikely because, as you pointed out, the people who allocate these funds are also on the committees of the FCCT and CAT.

    By the way, do the Ponserati even do the Lottery?

    Mangal, sorry but had to edit part of your comment. It did make me howl with laughter though 🙂 …RM

    Comment by mangalpandey on 24/06/2012 at 5:55 pm

  11. Very thin skinned people too. The Homerton posse contacted the police regarding what has been written about them here and on the Duchess of Hackney blog. Yup they contacted their local Safer Neighbourhood unit not liking how they have been written about, they reported us as being racist, which comes as no surprise to us. In fact I have been informed that Lafferty and her lot are also on the war path attempting to dig up all sorts.

    I say bring it on.

    Comment by Hackney Hive on 26/06/2012 at 7:32 am

  12. Yes, let them attack us.

    Hopefully it will bring more attention to this fight which is really all about how to reduce crime in high crime areas.

    On the one side, the memsahibs and their supporters are trying to cut crime in Hackney by putting pressure on lower income people to leave. Other special interest groups restrict their activities to applying for planning permission for their centres and adopt a live and let live approach. The memsahibs aggressively oppose all applications that don’t fit in to their ‘vision’ of Hackney.

    On our side, we are calling for tolerance. So what if someone eats fried chicken and bets on the horses. When the memsahibs have cleansed the area of all those that are different to them they will probably claim that their policy of intolerance has reduced crime.

    The real way to reduce crime is to allow people in areas like Hackney the same opportunities to access jobs as people who live in wealthier areas. The problem needs national solutions that deal with issues like why do all undergraduates have to pay for their education when it is really only people who have gone to Russell Group universities that have a real chance of improving their earnings, and why are there very few chances of promotion for people who haven’t gone to university and are often working two or three part time jobs.

    I often wonder why the memsahibs’ menfolk put up with it. It can’t be much fun having to eat brown rice and garlic muesli and not being allowed to go to the pub on your own.

    Comment by mangalpandey on 26/06/2012 at 11:27 am

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