UK & World News
'Mega-Mosque' Proposal Rejected By Council
A proposal to build one of the UK's biggest mosques with a capacity for almost 10,000 worshippers has been rejected by planning chiefs in east London.
Just over six hectares in size, they said the proposed mosque building was "too big" and would have an impact on important historic buildings nearby.
Abbey Mills Mosque - also known as the Riverine Centre - would have become one of the biggest Islamic centres in Britain and western Europe.
According to reports, the new mosque would have taken up three times the floor space of St Paul's Cathedral and matched the biggest Islamic building in Britain - Baitul Futuh in Morden, south London - for size.
The Tablighi Jamaat group, a missionary Islamic sect, was denied permission to erect the mosque by members of Newham Borough Council at a planning meeting on Wednesday night.
It was seeking the green light to build a new mosque, a library and a 2,000-capacity dining hall at the southern end of Canning Road in West Ham, Stratford, near to the Olympic Park.
Councillor Conor McAuley, the local authority's executive member for regeneration and strategic planning, said the committee had considered the application "at length and with great care" before rejecting it.
He said the development of new homes and jobs was a priority on the Abbey Mills site, and there were also "concerns" about the size of the proposed buildings and impact on parking and traffic in the area.
"The council undertook a rigorous and extensive consultation about the proposals in the run-up to this decision," said Mr McAuley.
"Our planning policies promote the development of the Abbey Mills site for a mix of residential, employment and community uses, to help create a new local centre near West Ham station and regenerate the area. The creation of new homes and jobs are a priority for Newham Council.
"It is not considered that this application is consistent with these policies. There are also concerns about the size of the proposed buildings and impact on parking and traffic in the local area."
He added: "The applicant's view that the site should only be used as a mosque was discussed at a public inquiry last year relating to the council's planning policy (the Core Strategy). The inspector did not accept their case."
Since Tablighi Jamaat moved to the Abbey Mills site in 1996, it has become embroiled in a series of application and enforcement disputes with Newham Council.
The group, which traces its origins to India in the late 1920s, has been accused in the past of radicalising young Muslims.
Tablighi Jamaat itself has said it "refrains from political or controversial activities and stands for democracy and freedom" and that it "promotes social and religious integration".