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A MOSQUE in a Dagenham parade of shops moved a step closer after an Islamic group matched an offer from rival buyers.

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Dagenham Central Mosque is set to be unveiled in Green Lane by the autumn despite 1,300 objections from residents.

Ilford Food Centre in Green Lane put down a deposit to buy the £500,000 row of shops, but Becontree Heath Islamic Society made a fresh offer, which is understood to have been accepted by the landlord.

People fear a mosque will put the shops out of business and increase traffic, while others feel a Muslim place of worship is not needed as there are others within a mile radius.

Despite the opposition, councillors on January 17 gave the group permission to turn the shops into a mosque and community centre, including a Safer Neighbourhood Team base.

Mosque committee member Abu Aref said: “We have made an offer. The offer that was made before is the same as it was before.

“We’re probably taking over the place in two weeks’ time. We’re very happy. It’s something that will help the community. We’ve got big hopes for the borough.”

The Muslim group said it was now working to help shops including a greengrocer, fishmonger and flower shop move to new premises across the street.

Derek Ovenden, 63, is selling his shop Derek’s Quality Meats and nearby premises. He is retiring after 42 years in the business.

He said: “There are no young butchers left in the trade. Supermarkets have driven them away.”

Ilford Food Centre boss Guven Inanc, 40, said: “I hope the new centre is going to be good for the area.”

The society is to appoint a builder to carry out the works, expected to be complete within eight months. 80 Muslims are to pray at the mosque that will also feature IT stations and a centre for youths and OAPs.

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