Developer defends decision to release mosque image (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Developer defends decision to release mosque image
A developer has denied he is scaremongering by releasing an artist’s impression of an alternative proposal for mosque on green space he wants to build houses on.
Dalbir Singh Sanger's motives for releasing the artist's impression of the large place of worship on the Evergreen Field in Wanstead site were questioned last week when it was noticed the building bore a striking resemblance to an existing mosque in Beirut.
Mr Sanger is facing a battle to gain approval for homes on the High Street site, amid local opposition and council restrictions.
But insists the mosque proposal is genuine, saying he has been approached by an interested party in the Middle East which wants to purchase the site.
However, he has refused to reveal why he decided to release the image.
Mr Sanger said: "This is not a scare tactic. The buyer and his offer are genuine.
"We have no plans to enter an application for a place of worship.
"The image is what it is. That’s what the buyer gave me. The actual application may differ.
"If the worse comes to the worse we will wash our hands of the land, but I will not be disclosing any further information about the buyer in case it jeopardises any future deals.
"I maintain the fact that our first and main objective is to work with the local people to build a low key development."
A number of people posting on the Guardian website criticised the decision to release the image.
One commentator, Richard Arnopp, of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands, agreed the artist's impression closely resembled the Mohammad al Amin Mosque in Beirut.
He said: "I don’t think releasing the image has done (Mr Sanger) any favours if he is trying to get the public on his side.
"It has made him look rather silly."
Mr Sanger is yet to submit an application for seven houses, two flats and two shops for the site, which has been fenced off for a number of years.
The Wanstead Society, which has applied for permission to open the site up for community use, had applied for the land to be formally listed as a community asset to give it further protection.
The bid was unsuccessful but Redbridge Council insists the site cannot be built on under current green space policy.
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