Decision due on “mega mosque” in Newham
10:34 05 December 2012
A decision on whether to approve plans for a so-called mega mosque in Newham is to be made tonight.
Council officers have recommended that controversial plans for the mosque in West Ham be rejected.
The plans to erect the Riverine Centre, also known as Abbey Mills Mosque, put forward by trustees following the Tabilighi Jamaat movement, are due to be heard by the Strategic Development Committee at Newham Council today.
At 29,227sq m the complex is more than three times the floorspace of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The development includes a segregated space for nearly 2,000 women, a library, dining hall, visitors’ centre, eight flats for imams and guests, along with tennis courts, a garden, and a riverside walk along Abbey Creek.
The former industrial land at the end of Canning Road is one of 10 sites listed for strategic development by Newham Council. Officers argue that the mosque plans are not in line with the council’s core strategy to create a new town centre for mixed use around West Ham Station.
The strategy states that any faith must not dominate the use or scale of the 6.3 hectare site overlooking the historic Abbey Mills pumping station and Canary Wharf.
The strategy also states that the site should provide a mix of residential and retail uses.
Previous plans for a mosque on the site included retail units but mosque trustees said these were dropped following consultation with the Muslim community.
About 3,000 worshippers a week currently use facilities at the site.
About 264 parking spaces would be provided compared with the 300 current parking spaces.
The meeting will be held at the Main Hall at the Old Town Hall in Stratford.
Controversial Islamic preacher Sheikh Haitham Al-Haddad, who sits on the Islamic Sharia Council, has posted an internet video on YouTube urging 15,000 protesters to gather in Stratford tonight in support of the plans.
He claims to be speaking on behalf of the group behind the Riverine Centre, who he says want people to attend a peaceful demonstration so councillors can see the crowds supporting the mosque.
In the video Al-Haddad said: “They are putting so many obstacles in place for brothers to get planning permission.
“It’s a big Islamic symbol in the heart of London. It belongs to all Muslims. Everyone should go.”
A spokesman for Newham police said: “We are aware of the YouTube video and appropriate policing plans will be in place to account for that.”
The meeting starts at 7pm and places in the public gallery will be limited.