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Future of site in West Ham uncertain after Islamic owners have to vacate mosque

PUBLISHED: 11:12 29 May 2013 | UPDATED: 11:23 29 May 2013

The Riverine Centre mosque site, currently used by around 3.000 worshippers

The Riverine Centre mosque site, currently used by around 3.000 worshippers

Archant

The future of a major development site is the centre of a difference of opinion between Newham council and the site's Islamic owners.

Cabinet member Councillor Clive Furness predicts the 6.2 hectare site, next to West Ham station and the second busiest station in London after Stratford, could be transformed into one of Newham’s “most exciting” places —bringing jobs, homes and community space and creating a gateway to the wider area.

But the trustees behind the Riverine Centre say its is still their ambition to create an “exceptional” piece of architecture of “national significance” - providing a landmark and destination for both the Islamic and wider community.

A planning application for what would have been Britain’s biggest mosque for 9,000 worshippers on the riverside site was rejected last December on the grounds that it did not provide a mixed use development.

The mosque, which with a floorspace of 29,000m2 would have been three times the size of St Paul’s Cathedral, was also refused because it was deemed that its scale and design would have a negative impact on the surrounding conservation area, including Abbey Mills Pumping Station.

Cllr Furness insists it is not about religion and that the council would welcome a mosque on the site. It is understood the council believes a partner company is needed to help clean up and develop the site.

Cllr Furness hit out at the trustees behind the site for failing to develop the land for the past 17 years. He says the council has “very real” concerns that the site risks further pollution and says the Environment Agency has now been called in.

But a spokesman for the Riverine Centre said: “The trustees have been working tirelessly with the council over the past 17 years in meeting the council’s aspirations.

“Viability experts have demonstrated that large parts of the council’s wishes are commercially and physically non-viable, however, we remain optimistic and determined in finding a mutually acceptable solution and all dialogues with the Council are open.”

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