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Thousands object to Hippodrome plans but supporters say Islamic centre will ‘help the community’

PUBLISHED: 16:33 11 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:43 12 October 2017

Advertising banners announcing the sale of Golders Green Hippodrome disappeared from the building

Advertising banners announcing the sale of Golders Green Hippodrome disappeared from the building

Archant

An application that could turn the Hippodrome in Golders Green into an Islamic ‘place of worship’ has received opposition with an e-petition sent to Barnet Council reaching more than 4,000 signatures.

Since the Hussainiyat Al-Rasool Al-Adham centre opened a few weeks ago, residents claim that thousands of people have been turning up causing disruption, noise, parking problems, and pollution.

Now, the Centre for Islamic Enlightening, which bought the former concert hall turned church, in North End Road, for £5.2m, has applied to Barnet Council for the word ‘church’ to be replaced by ‘place of worship’.

Current planning permission for the Hippodrome states that the building is ‘used as a church’.

Barnet Council has already received more than 200 objections to the new application submitted on September 13.

Lord Jonathan Morris of Kenwood commented: “A few nights ago a guest took over 30 minutes to reach our house by car from Golders Green station - a journey that at most should take 2-3 minutes”.

One resident wrote that his “own drive has been blocked in by opportunistic parking from the centre” whereas the previous occupants of the Hippodrome, El Shaddei made “much less impact in terms of additional parking and foot traffic.”

The applicants also want to increase opening times by an hour, to half past midnight.

Ahmed Al-Kazemi from the centre has denied neighbours reports that up to five services have been taking place a day. at the building. Mr Al-Kazemi says that the centre, which will serve the Shia community, is “not a mosque”.

“We are a community centre. We do have prayers here but we are not a mosque.

“Brothers and sisters, please come and knock on our door and you will find we have a lot in common.

“We are holding an open day on December 13 and we invite people of all faiths to come and meet us.”

He said that around 100-200 people have been turning up on Friday evenings for lectures and said that a recent event had attracted a large crowd due to a celebration to mark the first month of the Arabic calendar.

In recent days, support for the application has grown hugely.

Rabbi Ms Lee Wax, from Finchley commented: “As a North London resident, and as a Rabbi and a Jew, I look forward to seeing this lovely old building transformed into a community centre for the Muslim population of Golders Green. I look forward to the local Jewish and Muslim religious communities working together towards continued shared understanding and respect.”

Supporters beleive the Hippodrome provides an ‘opportunity to bring all faiths together’ and ‘will help the community’. At the time of publishing 173 were in favour with 221 objections made against the application. Almost 400 comments have been made. 379 people were consulted by letter by Barnet Council. Neighbour consultation closes on October 24.

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