Bonny Downs Urban Abbey

Bonny Downs Baptist Church Is working with Bonny Downs Community Association (BDCA) and NewWay project to redevelop the old Bonny Downs Church Hall at 18 Darwell Close, East Ham, London E6 6BT. 

The new building will provide a small number of housing units for community living above a ground floor community space. This will be used in the daytime for services to those facing homelessness or food poverty. #

We have received almost £50,000 in funding from the GLA via Community Led Housing London to develop this project and are we working with Panter Hudspith Architects on a feasibility study. These are the same architects who designed the new houses at the end of Darwell Close and Brede Close. 


The site

Back in 1933, members of the church crowdfunded and pooled their skills to build the single-storey church hall on the corner of Darwell Close and Flanders Road in East Ham. It has been well used and much loved by local people, but is in an extremely poor state of repair. Before it deteriorates further to become an eyesore, we want to redevelop it to create a useful and beautiful building that will benefit the community for years to come. 

The vision

Our ‘intentional community’ will bring together people from different backgrounds who are committed to sharing life with and supporting one another, united by a common goal of tackling poverty. A shared kitchen and lounge will facilitate communal living, where residents will regularly prepare and eat meals together. Everyone will help maintain the house and garden together, and work/volunteer in the neighbourhood. The resident community will be supported by people from the wider community who will join in weekly meals and regular times of reflection in the chapel.

The residents will be a mix of community workers and people moving on from homelessness who have low  support needs and would benefit greatly from a peaceful place to stay for 2-3 years so they can rebuild a new life. 


What we expect to see

Initial plans indicate there will be an 80-seat hall on the ground floor along with a kitchen, pantry and chapel. The ground floor will be used for the NewDay centre and Food Bank will be available to hire by local people for evening/weekend activities. A lift and stairs will give access to a small number of flats and studios, with a communal lounge, kitchen and roof garden on the first floor

Benefit to the community

This will provide a particular and much-needed kind of supported housing for a number of people who have already benefited from short-term hostel/move on accommodation available in Newham but are not yet ready to manage a tenancy alone. It will provide affordable homes for community workers who are committed to the area and desire to support others in an intentional community. The ground floor will provide daytime services for homeless people and space for community building activities at evenings and weekends. 

Where we are now

We have requested a pre-planning meeting based on the design so far. If this project proves to be viable, we will aim to complete it by mid/late 2023. 

More Information

Come along and talk about past memories and the future vision for this building on Saturday 1st May from 2 – 5 pm (Covid Permitting). You can meet the architects, and see what we have in mind for the future. And you can see a collection of photos and memories of the building from the past decades.

Do you have any photos or memories you could share with us? We would like to include them too. Please scan and send them with your name, address, and contact number to

Please click on the link below to find out more about our project:


For more information, please contact

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07933 608484      |

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