St John to convert crypt into workspace, helping local startups

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St John the Baptist is bid for a National Lottery funding to increase usage of their historic building and crypt. Credit: Heritage Lottery Funding.

A church is planning to turn its crypt into affordable workspace, if a National Lottery Fund bid is successful.

St John the Baptist, Pitfield Street, is being redeveloped so that it would make the church more accessible and affordable to the local community.

The “ambitious project” called #LoveHoxton aims to support new local businesses during their first months.

Reverend Graham Hunter, the church’s vicar said:“we would like to release our crypt to be a genuinely affordable co-working space. So if you’re a student, a designer or a photographer and you need a desk space where you can start up your new business and you need six months, you can come and get an affordable space where you can get things off the ground.”

Reverend Hunter also criticised the “not-so-affordable workspace” available in the Old Street area, with its biggest company being We Work. Its prices swing between £750 pcm for one seat to £18,240 pcm for 50 seats.

“They’re a global multinational and they give bare brick walls and put some table tennis tables and some funky lighting, it’s hip but it’s also expensive, and it’s got to make returns for its directors and its investors.”

St John’s bid for £1.75 million is one part of a £6m project to redevelop the church. The church also wants to install a lift and central heating and build some flats.

Reverend Hunter said: “I hope that we’ll find ways [to create] decent affordable housing and also make sure that there are good local jobs.”

“We’re trying to do a church redevelopment project which puts the need of the local community, not the church, at its heart. We are here for everybody.”