Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Plans collapse for Britain's biggest mosque in London

Plans to build Britain's biggest mosque in east London have collapsed.

The Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamaat wanted to create a place of worship close to the Olympic site which could have accommodated 12,000 people.

Newham Council said planning permission for land in Abbey Mills expired in 2006 and a January deadline for the group to come up with a masterplan had passed.

Tablighi Jamaat, which has not been available for comment, has been told to leave the Abbey Mills site this week.

Strong opposition

It has been operating an illegal temporary mosque at Abbey Mills, which is just south of the London 2012 Olympics site in Stratford.

There was strong opposition when the group unveiled its plans for the 7.3-hectare (18-acre) site.

More than 48,000 people petitioned the government to prevent it.

Tablighi Jamaat has no ties to terrorism. They have been subjected to some unfair coverage
The Muslim Council of Britain

A Newham Council spokesperson said: "Temporary planning permission expired on 31 October 2006 and any operations since then have been unlawful.

"The [Tablighi Jamaat] Trust was given until January to submit a masterplan for the site, although failed to meet this deadline."

The spokesman explained that the group had been given until Thursday to leave the land or the council would bring about "formal enforcement action".

He added: "The council will then look at a number of options open to it, which includes the possibility of using compulsory purchase powers.

"However, taking ownership of the land is not currently a consideration."

'Unfair coverage'

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: "We would hope that they will be able to work in co-operation with the local council if they wish to set up a mosque in the area.

"Tablighi Jamaat has no ties to terrorism. They have been subjected to some unfair coverage."

Another Muslim group, Minhaj-ul-Quran International UK, said the mosque should have been a community project rather than a proposal by an individual group.

A spokesman, Shahid Mursaleen, said "If the mosque is built with the consensus of the community then it will appeal to people of different faiths instead of just for Muslims.

"We urge the Newham community to unite and support this as a 'community project' so that it can be ready for 2012."

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