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Olympic mega-mosque: First planning clash to take place at major public inquiry in New Year

Pre-inquiry meeting on Thursday

Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat "are irresponsible and have deliberately flouted planning regulations" say opponents

Planners and lawyers from all sides are sharpening their pencils and their arguments in advance of a major public inquiry into the current use of the West Ham site of the proposed mega-mosque by separatist Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat.

Back in February Newham Council ordered Tablighi Jamaat off the site - which is owned by the Muslim group and is just half a mile from the main 2010 Olympic stadium - as they are currently and unlawfully using it for a temporary mosque and have erected buildings on site without planning permission.

Now the New Year will see a major public inquiry into Tablighi Jamaat's appeal against the Newham Council order. It will be held by the government's Planning Inspector and is booked to start on 8th February 2011 and last for eight days.

The pre-Inquiry meeting of principals and advisers takes place next Thursday,
11th November at Newham's new Town Hall opposite London City Airport.

Key issues of interest during the Inquiry will be the expected release of further information about the proposed mega-mosque. Already Tablighi Jamaat advisers have informed the Planning Inspector that:

  • the main planning application for the project "is likely to be lodged in mid-2011" and will include 12,000-capacity prayer halls, a large conference centre and an Islamic school for 500 boys;
  • significantly, for the first time they now have "the necessary funds" for the development of the mosque.

The campaign of opposition to the mega-mosque, led by Alan Craig of 'Newham Concern', will be represented at the Inquiry and at the pre-Inquiry meeting on Thursday.

"People think the mega-mosque project is dead," said Alan Craig who was Leader of the Opposition on Newham Council until May. "Far from it. Tablighi Jamaat are irresponsible and have deliberately flouted UK planning regulations. But they are still intending to build their separatist and fundamentalist mosque.

"However we are determined instead that the site should be developed as an attractive mixed-use riverside development utilising its excellent public transport connections - for the benefit of the whole community," said Mr Craig.

"Our campaign for a better development of the site continues. The Inquiry will be important as an indication of the future for West Ham as an integrated and cohesive neighbourhood."

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