Hillsong UK purchases iconic north London theatre

Golders Green Hippodrome is to be the new home of Hillsong UK.(Photo: Google)

Hillsong UK is entering a new chapter with the purchase of a north London building. 

The Golders Green Hippodrome has been bought from a Muslim group after failed plans to turn it into an Islamic centre, Jewish News reports.

The Grade II listed building is an iconic theatre and music venue which has been graced by the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Laurence Olivier, and was once the home of the BBC concert orchestra.

It is the first time that the Australia-based church will own a venue in the UK after renting the Dominion Theatre close to Oxford Street since 2005. 

"We recognise the significance of the building to the community and look forward to playing our part by adding to the work of local churches and charities through our social action programme," a spokesperson for Hillsong told Jewish News.

Attempts by the previous owner, Markaz El Tathgheef El Eslami, to turn it into an Islamic centre for learning that would be open seven days a week faltered after local concern around traffic and parking.

The plans were called off for good after Barnet's strategic planning committee deferred a verdict on the application in July.

Alan Jacobs, spokesman for the Golders Green Residents Environment Group, was more positive about Hillsong moving into the area because use of the building will be far more restricted.

He told Jewish News: "Hillsong Church is a progressive, diverse and inclusive organisation which recognises the value of working with local communities.

"Their services are popular across the globe and we look forward to welcoming them to Golders Green. The Hippodrome has suffered from underinvestment for many years and we are delighted to hear that Hillsong recognises the Hippodrome's historic importance and they plan to invest in the fabric of the building."

Jacobs added: "The previous owners failed in their attempts to get planning permission to use the Hippodrome as a mosque because of the daily traffic and parking problems that would have resulted. Church use is generally on a Sunday, which Golders Green is better able to cope with."