Rogério Silva de Araújo’s 55m-tall design will seat 10,000 worshippers

Planning permission has been granted for a 10,000-seat “mega-church” in Brazil’s economic capital, Sao Paulo.

According to a report in the Guardian, the 18-storey structure, which will cost around £130m and take four years to complete, will house a replica of the Ark of the Covenant and be built according to “biblical orientations”.

The church is being built by Brazil’s controversial Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and has been designed by Brazilian architect Rogério Silva de Araújo.

It includes a car park for 1,000 vehicles, TV and radio studios, and classrooms for 1,300 children. At 55m high, it will be twice the height of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God claims an estimated 8 million followers in 180 countries worldwide, with a TV channel and a free newspaper. In 2009, São Paulo’s public prosecutor accused 10 senior members of the church of siphoning off billions of dollars of donations to buy cars and property.