Church promises to tackle gangs and violence if it gets permission for a branch in Stratford
PUBLISHED: 13:58 01 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:11 01 August 2018
A church is promising to tackle drugs, gangs and violence and open a food bank if it is granted permission to open a branch in Stratford.
The Redeemed Evangelical Mission are proposing to convert Bow County Court in Romford Road, into a ‘heritage hub’ with a chapel, café and office.
The hub is described as a “centre for all nations and people who believe in the efficacy of the word of God and desire to be all that God wants them to be”.
The church said it has started a programme to engage with the community and pledged to run a food bank and seminars to address issues of ‘drugs, gangs, violence and early pregnancies’ if planning permission is granted.
However neighbours have argued there are already eight other Christian places of worship in the street, including the Highway Church directly next door.
Kapil Gupta said: “These include fairly visible places for Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.
“I am proud of this diversity in Newham, but I strongly believe that there should be a limit on permitting the opening of new religious places when clearly, we have plenty.
“There are already many unused churches nearby as well that can be brought back to use by the applicant.”
Another objector said the site would be better used for housing.
“Newham has many homeless people and this site could be used for housing,” he said.
“Other buildings next to this site have been converted and this building would lend itself well for this use.”
The church, which was set up in Nigeria in 1981, bought the building from the Ministry of Justice for £3.5million last year.
It has 160 branches in 10 different countries with UK bases including Fulham, Dagenham and Clapton in the capital plus Cardiff, Birmingham and Leeds.
But not all residents are against the plans.
Rocky Hirst wrote to the council to support the “highly community-driven” application.
He added that he hoped the “main hall could be available for hire for local music, theatre and other creative groups to encourage the arts”.
The church declined to comment further.
Newham Council will make a decision at a later date.