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Religious group loses bid to convert disused electrical substation into church

PUBLISHED: 19:00 02 August 2018

The Celestial Church of Christ House of Prayer is in Surrey Street. Pic: Google

The Celestial Church of Christ House of Prayer is in Surrey Street. Pic: Google

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A religious group which has been using a disused electrical substation as a place of worship for six years has had an application to have it officially turned into a church rejected by Newham Council.

The Celestial Church of Christ House of Prayer applied to transform the substation in Surrey Street, Plaistow, into a place of worship and build a side extension.

But its plan was refused by the local development committee.

Councillors argued that the chapel could cause parking problems in the area and the applicant had “failed to prove” the premise would serve more than one section of the community.

Council officers added that the substation was “not located within a designated town centre or a community facility opportunity area and would undermine the council’s aims of providing vibrant and successful town centres.”

“We have had that premises for six years, and in that time we have not had a single complaint from anyone,” Pastor Michael from the Celestial Church of Christ House of Prayer told the committee.

“Parking is not a problem because we serve local people. We are not interested in people coming from more than three miles away.

“We serve all people. I have had Muslims coming in to ask if they can pray and of course we say yes.”

Enforcement officers visited the substation last year and discovered it was being used as a place of worship by the registered charity.

The council then insisted representatives from the church officially applied for the change of use.

The site has a long history of unauthorised use, and the council has previously closed down a dance studio and a shisha bar which were set up in the space.

The Celestial Church of Christ House of Prayer’s change of use application was rejected by six council votes and two abstentions.

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