Plans have been submitted to turn an abandoned warehouse site into a community centre and place of worship.

A planning application was sent to Havering Council on Monday (February 5) by charity Beam Park Islamic Centre (BPIC) to convert the existing unit at 179 New Road in Rainham into a space where Muslims can assemble to offer prayers.

In addition, the plans said the centre will also provide “essential educational and recreational facilities for the communities at large for people of all faiths and backgrounds”.

A supporting statement by the charity stated that the centre will promote “peaceful coexistence” and “community cohesion” for the benefit of the public.

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These activities, it added, include providing counselling for drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, supporting vulnerable people suffering from domestic abuse and mental health problems, organising educational programmes for women to enhance their computer literacy, hosting tea and coffee mornings for the elderly and delivering fitness and martial arts classes for young people.

It claimed that there is no designated place of worship that offers the five daily Muslim prayer service and faith-based educational programmes in the area.

The plans say Friday prayers are held at 35a New Road and are attended by roughly 120 people once a week. However, the charity highlighted that more people who identify as Muslim are moving to Rainham, and they require a bigger space for their spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing.

A statement in planning documents says: “We are in the process of carrying out a more detailed survey into the number of Muslims in the area to demonstrate that most people attending the centre would be doing so on foot and would not require a car."

A covering letter by ppm Planning on behalf of BPIC said the charity was established in October 2022 and its trustees and volunteers have been serving the local community for many years.

The site was historically part of the allocation in Havering Council’s development plans for housing and a primary school, it said, but the site has remained undeveloped.

Pre-application advice was sought by BPIC for an earlier scheme in June 2023, wherein the rear ground floor was retained as a warehouse. This has since been removed in the current plans to avoid additional issues of car parking, the agency said.

A planning enforcement notice was issued by Havering Council in August 2018 in respect of the site that revealed that it was being used as a place of worship and community centre without consent.

Among the reasons for issuing the notice, the council claimed that the surrounding area is served by poor public transport and the site is not sustainable for the purpose.

It ordered the recipients, Latif Foundation and Best Commercial Holdings Ltd, to stop using the land as such within a month of the notice and remove all equipment associated with its unauthorised use.  

A decision on the recent application is expected to be made by April 3. 

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