March 2017 Update

North London Samaritans has been given a grant of £545,000 to rebuild Shaftesbury Hall to provide a centre for Samaritans’ volunteers and fund an amazing new public facility for local people.

The charity now needs to look to local businesses, trusts and individuals to raise £110,000 in the next 6 months to complete the project. If all goes to plan, NLS aim to start building work in the autumn of 2017 and complete it by mid-2018.

This grant will ultimately benefit around 360 people per week by working with a large number of local organisations. Over 30 local people and groups have already expressed a keen interest in using the space.

Local business, community groups and others interested in fundraising or sponsorship opportunities for the North London Samaritans’ Shaftesbury Hall appeal should contact North London Samaritans on 020 8368 6789 or email

After the Hall is redeveloped we will have a plaque on the inside which will list the names of individuals and organisations who have donated or raised over £500. If you are interested in this please let us know.

Bowes Park is on the verge of having an amazing new community space. 

North London Samaritans are through to the third and final stage of a Big Lottery grant application to redevelop Shaftesbury Hall on Herbert Road, London, N11.


If successful, the £500,000 grant will enable the complete redevelopment of Shaftesbury Hall – known locally as the ‘Tin Tabernacle’ - providing new workspaces for the North London Samaritans, and a hall for the whole community to use.

However, to secure the Big Lottery grant, the local community still needs to raise £80,000. This is where you can help. 

To support the fundraising campaign please donate.

North London Samaritans have been helping people for over 40 years through our trained volunteer listeners who day and night answer calls for help from people in distress and despair.

Public Meeting to update local residents on progress towards the rebuilding of Shaftsbury Hall, Herbert Road, Bounds Green and to seek views on the planning application to demolish and rebuild the hall.

Held at the The Riverside Community Church, Russell Road, Palmers Green at 7pm on the 16th August 2016 In attendance 2 Local Councillors, 7 local residents and 6 Samaritans.

The meeting commenced and a presentation was given which covered the following areas.

1. Description of the work of the Samaritans

2. Rebuilding proposals and reason for new planning application

3. Funding/lottery bid

4. Risk from squatters

5. Timetable

6. Questions. To address and understand any concerns of the residents A copy of the slides used is attached.

Points made by residents 1. Why in the fund raising leaflet circulated at the meeting (attached) did it not mention the fact that the Samaritans had tried in the past to obtain planning consent for residential development as well as a hall and offices on the site, which the local residents opposed? ANSWER The residential element was solely included to provide finance for the Samaritans meeting and office requirements. This finance was now hopefully being provided by the BIG lottery. These applications had failed and therefore were not included.

2. Concern was expressed that if planning consent to demolish was granted and the Samaritans did not obtain funding that an ugly hole would be left. ANSWER The Samaritans would only demolish if the funding was obtained to rebuild and were happy to accept the planning officers suggested condition that the building could not be demolished until a building contract was in place to rebuild.

3. Why was planning permission being sought to demolish the existing frame? ANSWER Two reasons were explained in the presentation 1) The existing frame was in poor condition and inadequate to bear the weight of new cladding materials and 2)by demolishing it saved £130,000 in VAT which then made the lottery bid much more achievable. The application was identical in every way to the previous application with the exception of the green roof to the office. This was replaced with metal sheeting, which was lower maintenance and had a much longer life. There were no objections to this.

4. However one of the councillors raised the question of whether the brick type to the walkway had changed. We thought not but agreed to check.

5. The residents and Local Councillors requested that they be kept informed of progress and it was agreed that regular reports would be given to all the interested groups.

6. It was suggested that a large board be erected on the Hall saying that it was owned by the Samaritans and that it was to be rebuilt also seeking funds as the site was so prominent. Also that the building contained asbestos.

7. The squatter problem was discussed at length and the high cost of removing squatters surprised the residents. The Samaritans would like to make the building uninhabitable to prevent future occupation by possibly taking the roof off. The planners were not supportive of this and the Councillors agreed to discuss this with the Planning Officer. The residents recognised the problem.

8. The meeting then turned to how the local residents could help with fund raising and possibly helping with skills. This was greatly welcomed.

The meeting closed at 8.10

July 2014 update

On 6th December 2013 the NLS committee received confirmation of their successful planning application from the LB Haringey (LBH) and approval of the refurbishment programme for Shaftesbury Hall (aka the ‘Tin Tabernacle’). After almost 40 years of trying, there is finally to be a resolution on the future of the hall that will for the very first time make it more readily available to the local residents and community groups of Bounds Green as well as a brand new base for the vitally important North London Samaritans’ operations.

The slight hiccough in progress (when the hall was occupied by squatters) has now been overcome and the majority of the detailed surveys and design drawings will soon be available for review and discussion to a wider audience. Thereafter, the detailed plans will need to be submitted to LBH for consideration and hopefully, official approval. With the detailed drawings comes the ability to better define exactly how much money NLS will need to raise in order to complete the proposed refurbishment programme (currently, estimated to be in the region of £200,000).

It is hoped that with the interest and support that has currently been shown from local residents and community groups, the hall project may be able to attract significant funding from the BIG Lottery and a grant application is currently being prepared. Any local community or residents groups who may see the hall as a potential venue for future events are asked to contact NLS via to express their interest, please. (We will not hold you to any commitment but the more groups we might attract means the more likely we are to gain an interest from BIG Lottery.)

Many of you will have noticed that recently all of the overgrown vegetation surrounding the hall has been removed, including the trees. This has been necessary to try and avoid any future incursions into the hall and remove any possible hiding places for those wishing to cause further problems. If anyone sees anything untoward happening in and around the hall please do not hesitate to call the police.

November 2013 update

An application for planning permission (HGY/2013/2121) has now been submitted to Haringey Council – if you like what you see, why not go to the Council’s website and support our application? A further public meeting to discuss this will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 25th November at Bounds Green Junior School (Lower Junior Hall), Bounds Green Road, N11 2QG. We’d love to see you there.

June 2013 update

We are pleased to announce the details of our informal public meeting. This will be held on Wednesday 10th July from 7.30 pm in the Lower Junior Hall of Bounds Green School. Please follow this link for the school’s location.

This will be your opportunity to speak to the architects, find out more about the project and give us your thoughts.

July 2013 update

Our first public meeting on 10th July ended with a show of hands indicating overwhelming support for the conceptual plans to sustainably re-construct the building. Councillors, members of the public and Samaritans volunteers turned out in force on 10th July to discuss the plans and ask questions. The public consultation meeting attracted 43 neighbours and 2 local Councillors as well as branch volunteers.

Project architect, Paul Fletcher, said “The existing building is in appalling condition. It has asbestos, zero insulation, single glazing, rotten timbers and holes in the walls. We propose to carefully ‘unpeel’ the structure and rebuild on its original frame using sympathetic modern materials to recreate the visual aesthetic in a sustainable way”.

The audience heard how the building would enhance the local area as it would turn a dilapidated and unused building into a local resource, providing a rental space for the community as well as a centre from which the branch of Samaritans can undertake its vital work with people who are often facing suicide and cannot cope alone.

Local people and Councillors were reassured that Samaritans’ plans included ‘Secured by Design’ aspects to ensure that it would enhance, and not detract from, local neighbourhood security. Secured by Design is an initiative whereby police and developers work closely to ensure optimum building solutions. Elsewhere in north London, regeneration schemes have increased property values and helped reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. There would be murals and street art which will reduce unwanted graffiti, further enhancing the aesthetics of the neighbourhood.

The consultation process will continue.

May 2013 update

All of the surveys that we now have in relation to the structure of the hall confirm that there is nothing of the existing external or internal fabric (timber walls/windows/ceiling/floor and external corrugated cladding and asbestos-based roof cladding) that can be salvaged for the new hall. This comes as no surprise to us as we already knew, for instance, that the original timber flooring is completely rotten and has been covered up (by the previous owners) with a new tongue and groove floor that just hides all of the problems. There are large holes in the timber walls and gaps in the roof – all of which have been with us since we first owned the property in the 1970s.

The surveys do suggest, however, that the timber framework that forms the structural support for the cladding remains sound (for the most part) and we hope that all it needs is to be strengthened in places. It also seems that the foundations will be sufficient for any new build on top of them, so long as we pay due regard to weight and loading (i.e. use appropriate modern materials). Thus, we retain the integrity of the hall framework and the base upon which it stands. The size, shape and form will not be changed so that it covers the same floor ‘footprint’. The materials used to clad the framework will be very similar in looks to the existing materials (i.e. retain the same aesthetic design and thus give the impression the old ‘tin tabernacle’ remains) but will obviously comply with building regulations in terms of thermal retention, ‘sustainability’, heating, lighting, health and safety, etc., etc. The new materials will be sympathetic to the building’s current looks both inside and out.

The current hideous extension to the rear (the area that English Heritage determined detracted so much from the character of the building) will be demolished. A new, more appropriately designed and sited extension will be added to accommodate North London Samaritans’ call centre. It will not impinge as the current building does on the neighbouring property in Herbert Road and neither will it detract from the integrity of the hall in its own right. We are trying to be very careful about reintroducing a hall building that can act as a ‘stand-alone’ feature if it needs to. Thus, we would have what we hope the community wants, the salvaging of a local building of interest that can double as a hire-out facility for all local interest groups and retain the vitally important service that the local volunteer Samaritans have been giving for the past 40 years.

We hope to advertise a public meeting shortly (we are just trying to find a suitable venue) whereby we will invite everyone interested to come and pose their questions and offer their thoughts in relation to what we believe will be in the interests of the majority of the local community. Although we have a certain amount of funds to invest in this project we know we shall need more; only when we have the majority of the local community on our side will we feel ready to go for planning permission and thereafter we shall have a better understanding of how much additional funding we shall need.

Please do not hesitate to ask as many questions as you wish – we feel confident you will not be disappointed by the answers!”


There is a great opportunity for the Bounds Green community to take a stake in the future of the much-loved ‘Tin Tabernacle’ in Herbert Road, by Bowes Park Station.

North London Samaritans have owned the hall and the land since 1974 but we want to renovate it as a community asset, a hall for the use of the whole area.

In the process we want to include a much needed new and improved space for our operation supporting everyone in the local community who finds themselves in a state of distress, despair, or possibly suicidal.

Our branch is run by volunteers, operating under the national policy guidance of Samaritans’ General Office, and we have to generate all the money we need through local fundraising efforts. This means funds raised are always for survival – rent, electricity, gas, telephones and an increasing amount on stopping the hall deteriorating further – with nothing left to spend on making it fit for purpose again.

In the past, without funds, renovating the hall has been impossible despite our desire to do so. Previous attempts to redevelop the site, ongoing since the late 1970s, have always involved a developer prepared to provide Samaritans with a ‘no-cost’ solution for the space we need. Necessarily, each developer has needed to build new homes on the site rather than just a community asset, in order to recover the cost of delivering the Samaritans’ accommodation.

Understandably, many within the local community did not like these plans as they wanted the hall saved. Fortunately for everyone, the plans have not gone ahead. As local Samaritans, we have always tried to listen to the concerns raised and now there is a fantastic opportunity for the local community to get involved in the future of Shaftesbury Hall via a possible innovative crowdsourcing model for raising the necessary funds.

We have decided to deliver the redevelopment and renovation project ourselves. We’ve assigned a dedicated team of volunteers to make the project work and already a talented team of professionals have been assembled. The team comprises architects, surveyors, engineers and so on, offering their services at hugely discounted rates because they believe in the project and its intended purpose. We are really working hard to make this happen for the least amount of money possible and the best return for the community as a whole.

In order for the revitalised Shaftesbury Hall to be a truly valuable community asset, we need to have as much of the community as possible involved from the beginning of the new project.

We want to work with all interested people and community groups – anyone and everyone who is prepared ‘to get in the boat and row’ – to refurbish the hall and create a 21st century facility.

Do you Love the 'Tin Tabernacle'?