Hindu worshippers evicted from their temple last year have found a new home in Merton after an application for a new ‘Hindu cultural centre’ was approved by councillors.
Bailiffs executed a dawn raid on the Sivayogam temple in Hebdon Road, Tooting on May 22, 2012, following a long running legal dispute with the building’s owner Barrowfen Properties Ltd which wanted to turn it into a Travelodge.
Eleven priests sleeping in the art deco building were evicted and the building sealed, preventing worshippers from entering or removing 16 gold and gem encrusted statues of gods believed to be worth around £100,000.
Following a high court hearing temple trustees were later allowed back into the building for one day only to remove their possessions.
After losing their home of 16 years the devotees set up a temporary base in Croydon, but have now found a permanent home after receiving permission to turn a former industrial warehouse in High Path, Colliers Wood, into a Hindu cultural centre.
The centre will comprise a prayer hall and temple, day care centre for the elderly, a youth centre, restaurant and accommodation for ten priests.
MP for Mitcham and Morden Siobhan McDonaugh, writing to support the application, said: "At present, there is a large Hindu community in Merton, including a very large number of Tamils, who play a full role within Merton’s wider population.
"However, they are currently not well served in terms of places to worship or other community facilities.
"This application presents an opportunity to support that community.
"It will create extra jobs.
"It will lead to more day care support for older citizens.
"It will have a relatively low impact on the surrounding neighbourhood."
The application was approved by councillors at a planning meeting on Thursday, August 15.
A previous application to build the centre on a nearby site in Colliers Wood was rejected.