‘Impossible’ Olympics faith centre plans scrapped

A computer generated image of the Olympic Stadium. Credit - Getty Images

Plans for a multi-faith centre on the 2012 Olympic site have been shelved, after faith leaders said it was impossible for leaders to work together.

The decision was announced last week at a public meeting reporting on the Olympic development, at Hackney Wick Community Centre.

Emma Wheelhouse from the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) said that plans for a shared prayer space on the Hackney Wick 2012 site had been discarded, after focus groups and a faith forum representing all communities slated the idea.

The OPLC, which is responsible for the long-term planning of the Olympic Park and its facilities after the Games, had tested the idea with the 2012 Three Faith Forum of 12 religious leaders and with “bespoke faith focus groups”.

Faith leaders warned the Legacy Company that their worship programmes would come into conflict. All three major faiths would want use of the prayer space at similar times, especially evenings, Wheelhouse said.

Moreover the community leaders said that to share back-of-house space offering other faith-related services such as circumcision and mikvah – a Jewish ritual bath – would be “impossible”.

“We really liked the idea and were genuinely surprised that people felt this way,” said Wheelhouse.

The Legacy Company is tasked with establishing a lasting footprint for the capital.

Earlier this month they chose a group of young people from all five host boroughs to be involved in the long term planning and urban design of their area.

Over the next five months, the twenty-two 13- to 21-year-olds will visit the Olympic site, work with planners and meet key 2012 figures. The Youth Panel will also make school visits.

Shaneice Bailey, 14, from Cardinal Pole RC School in Hackney said:

“I joined the Legacy Youth Panel to develop my confidence and share young people’s views with others and to have our say.

“I am interested in sports and the Olympics and want to find out more about what is happening first hand.”