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West Ham residents reveal mega-mosque plan fears

Residents Kevin Fitzgerald, Michelle Wilson, Mike Duff and Keith Daniel Residents Kevin Fitzgerald, Michelle Wilson, Mike Duff and Keith Daniel

Friday, November 2, 2012
8:29 AM

Prospective neighbours of a large mosque planned for West Ham have told of their concerns surrounding the controversial development.

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The Riverine Centre site where they hope to build the mosqueThe Riverine Centre site where they hope to build the mosque

Residents living close to the site in Canning Road believe it would completely dwarf the surrounding conservation areas and fail to serve a mixed community if given the go-ahead.

They say no proper public consultation has been held to reflect the current plans, which they say serve almost exclusively one Islamic group -Tabilighi Jamaat - rather than the whole community.

Mike Duff, a 33-year-old director of an urban planning consultancy, is among the residents who have put their objections to the council and mosque backers.

He said: “I worked for six years in Saudi Arabia and helped At-Turaif, the village where Wahab Islam, the strictest interpretation of Islam globally, was founded to achieve Unesco World Heritage Status, so being anti-Muslim is the furthest thing from my mind. I understand where they are coming from with regard to practising their religion.

“But the scale of this mosque is completely unsuitable for this location, I would feel the same if it was a church of that size.

“The building would dominate the view from the Greenway and all the listed sites around here such as Three Mills with the world’s largest surviving tidal mill and the Abbey Mills Pumping Station.

“The land presents an amazing opportunity to really regenerate it for the whole of the community. We are not saying the land owners should not be allowed to practise their faith, but it should not be at the expense of local residents.”

Kevin Fitzgerald, a retired sociology university lecturer, fears parking problems if the plan goes ahead, saying: “Most of the current worshippers come by car and the idea you can suddenly get most of them to come by public transport is at best naive.

“No more than the current 300 parking spaces are proposed despite the number of worshippers being multiplied by five. ”

There are also fears the decontamination of the land ahead of building works risk polluting the air and ground water.

Moira Storey, a 54-year-old academic manager said: “We need assurance from the planning authorities that an independent examination of the land is carried out and guarantees are in place to ensure the land will be properly cleaned and made safe before permission is given.”

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