Plans for Islamic centre on Isle of Dogs withdrawn as campaign group set up
PUBLISHED: 16:07 23 August 2013 | UPDATED: 18:21 23 August 2013
Plans for an Islamic community centre on a UNESCO World Heritage site have been withdrawn at the same time that a group opposing it was formally launched.
An application for the building, in Grade II listed Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs - recognised for its breathtaking views of Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College, were submitted to Tower Hamlets Council.
More than 120 people turned out for a meeting at Poplar Rowing Club last Thursday, which formally established the Friends of Island Garden —launched in wake of the opposition to the centre.
Following the withdrawal of the application the group will now focus on bringing the park back to its glory days and oppose any future planning application deemed unsuitable.
It came after more than 2,000 letters demanding the application was rejected was sent to the council.
Resident Eric Pembleton, who was voted in as chair of the group during the meeting, said it was a very good turn out during the holiday period — demonstrating the strength of the opposition.
Mr Pembleton said: “I don’t think the council have received that many letters objecting to a proposal for long time.
“We feel highly delighted and elated the plans have been withdrawn and would fight any future application.”
Mr Pembleton said protesters were not against the centre on religious grounds.
He said: “I would be against it if the Archbishop of Canterbury wanted to build on the park.
“It is a precious heaven and oasis to the people on the island and workers in Canary Wharf.
“It has a history going back 200 years. The painter Canaletto particularly chose that spot to paint his view of Greenwich Hospital.”
Mr Pembleton said the group will now focus on trying to bring back the park’s bandstand and putting in water fountains, public toilets and CCTV cameras.
Leader of the Conservative group at Tower Hamlets Council, Peter Golds, who is one the founders of Friends of Island Garden, said: “I’m delighted we’ve established a group to look after and enhance Island Gardens.
He said he was not opposed to the building on religious grounds. “But equally why should there be religious buildings on public ground with separate entrances for men and women —that is not very inclusive,” he said.
It has not been possible to contact the applicant behind the proposals.