Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Sunday, 30 March 2008

Faithful 'crammed into churches'

Service at Glory House church, east London
Evangelical and Pentecostal churches have been growing rapidly

Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in London say restrictive planning regulations have left many worshippers crammed into small buildings.

The denominations have seen rapid growth and an estimated 350 London churches want bigger premises.

A report by CAG Consultants said that a "huge unmet need for expansion" has been held back by lack of cultural awareness among planning authorities.

Churches want rules changed to let them move to areas earmarked for employment.

Degrees of desperation

Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in London - many of which have a majority of black members - have grown rapidly, Pentecostal churches by two-thirds in the last decade.

A survey of 22 of the 33 London Boroughs by CAG Consultants found that "a lack of knowledge about faith and cultural awareness" among planners had created a "substantial barrier to expansion".

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said that one property consultant specialising in churches told how he was acting for 350 in varying degrees of desperation to move.

The churches complain that planning regulations discriminate against places of worship.

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