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Final rejection for Sheppard Robson's mega-church

Sheppard Robson Architects’ proposals for a £70 million ‘mega-church’ in east London are lying in tatters after it was refused planning at a final planning committee last night (14 February).

The scheme, designed for the Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), would have provided space for 8,000 worshippers – double the congregation of St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey combined.

The London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC) rejected the planning application primarily due to issues over the movement of people attending the church.

Chair of the LTGDC planning committee Conor McAuley said: ‘After serious consideration, the planning committee felt that concerns over the effectiveness of the proposals to get people to and from the site, the conflict with the planning policy land use allocated for the site, and the impact on the local community outweighed the exceptional use that the applicant sought to argue in favour of the proposal.’

The refusal will be a significant blow to the London Development Agency, which had selected the site for the KICC after it moved the church from its original home in Hackney Marshes to make way for the Olympic Park.

Sheppard Robson’s design included a 500-seat chapel, an 8,000-seat auditorium, a 1,000-seat ‘multi-use’ building, and space for 1,200 cars.

Catherine Hennessy, associate partner at the London-based firm, said: ‘It’s now up to our clients to decide whether they want to appeal. They went through a great deal of effort to put the planning application in.

‘The committee had concerns more with the local policies, such as land allocated for employment. They had no problems with the design of the building.’

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