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     Bonny Downs Abbey

A Place of Community Life

Bonny Downs Baptist Church Is working with Bonny Downs Community Association (BDCA), NEWway project and J49 Housing Association to redevelop the old Bonny Downs Church Hall at 18 Darwell Close, East Ham, London E6 6BT.

The new building, our ‘Abbey’, 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 are delighted to have finally been given planning permission at the 30 January 2024 meeting. We hope to start on site in January 2025 and complete by January 2026. If you can help with the £500,000 we need to raise for the community space, please give to our fundraising appeal

Our Vision Statement

Bonny Downs Abbey will be an intentional community committed to sharing life and enabling people to flourish – both residents and those in the surrounding community.

The ground floor will have community space and a chapel, with housing above. Up to eight studio homes will welcome single people who have experienced homelessness, who will stay for an agreed period of supported tenancy. Two flats will enable community workers to make their home with us. All will share communal living space.

The whole community will share cooking, cleaning, and food growing. Residents will also be invited to volunteer at the daytime services for homeless people based on the ground floor, work together through NEWlife Newham gardening social enterprise, explore creativity, and to join in the rhythm of daily prayer with Bonny Downs Church. Acting as a therapeutic community, it will be a place to rebuild lives, and to foster purpose and belonging.

The Abbey will be a hub for the existing partnership between Bonny Downs Baptist Church, Bonny Downs Community Association (BDCA) and NEWway Project, an established charity that provides care, support and accommodation to those who find themselves homeless in our borough. This new development will be an expression of the sense of community which already exists around the building. The ‘resident’ and ‘scattered’ community will share in regular meals, daily prayer, and serving on a management committee. Governance will be modelled on participation and inclusion.

Bonny Downs Baptist Church is pioneering this innovative use of the church site to meet the needs of the neighbourhood it has been committed to for over 100 years already. Through founding BDCA it has helped to revitalise four local venues and launch activities and services that benefit 1000s of local people across the generations each year. Growing from this, NEWway has developed a holistic model of support for people experiencing homelessness.









This new building will continue to embody our commitment to do life together in this place.

Our vision reflects Hebrew Scripture: Isaiah 58:12

“You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,  rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community liveable again.”

The building

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 enhances the neighbourhood. We have held two consultation events with local residents.

 What we expect to see

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 and weekend activities.

On two floors above will be eight studios for affordable rent, two flats for sale, plus a communal lounge, kitchen and roof garden on the first floor for residents to share life together.

We received almost £150,000 in grant/loan from the GLA via Community Led Housing London to develop this project, and we have worked with Panter Hudspith Architects to design a beautiful and energy-efficient building. These are the same architects who designed the new houses at the end of Darwell Close and Brede Close.

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.

The ground floor will provide daytime services for homeless people and space for community building activities at evenings and weekends.

Can you help?

We have a substantial fundraising challenge to meet during 2024 to make this vision become reality. We are applying for grants towards the £500,000 needed for the community space, as well as running our fundraising appeal which you can donate to at:  The church is also looking for major investors to buy one of the flats. Please get in touch if you would like to help.

For more information, please contact

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