A public exhibition was held by Tablighi Jamaat in Stratford in a bid to gather support for the Riverine Centre in Canning Road – dubbed a “mega-mosque”. The plan includes a 9,500 capacity mosque with 40m high minarets, library, visitors centre, and a 300-space car park for worshippers.
A temporary facility, consisting of demountable buildings, is currently on site. It survived an attempt last year by Newham Council to remove it on the basis of increased traffic and land contamination.
A spokesman for Tablighi Jamaat said the reaction was largely positive. The trustees hope to submit an application before the Olympic Games. He said:
“It seems appropriate for Newham to be setting an agenda for London of cohesion and acceptance by promoting public spaces that facilitate both secular and religious activity in a benign manner. The most significant strategic decision has been to place the mosque at the heart of the site, as a powerful unifying element, a symbol of London’s diverse heritage and a celebration of our cultural diversity.”
It will feature five public spaces, described as “character zones”. One will house the visitor centre and others a nature trail. The mosque will be equivalent to an eight-storey building, while apartments will range from four to seven storeys high.
Former Christian People’s Alliance Cllr Alan Craig, now campaign director at Newham Concern, said: “If they wanted to put a modest mosque in Newham I wouldn’t have a problem. But they want to put their Western world headquarters there. It’s going to be isolationist and will simply create a large custom built Islamic ghetto. It will be Newham’s first Sharia-controlled zone.”
A spokesman for the trustees shot back: “Alan is yesterday’s man and that’s the truth of the matter. The facts are there. It going to be a mixed use facility with public access.”