Communities secretary stands by planning refusal for 8,000-seat development in east London

Kingsway International Christian Centre, a Pentecostal 'mega-church', has had its appeal against a planning refusal for an 8,000-seat stadium-style development in Rainham, east London rejected by communities secretary, John Denham.

London Thames Gateway Development Corporation had refused KICC’s earlier application to build the arena in February 2008 following objections from Havering council and local residents.

Peter Andrews, the development corporation's chief executive, said: "This decision supports the strongly held view that there was no justification to override existing policies relating to employment, public transport and regeneration of the area to meet the needs of KICC."

Kingsway is thought to be the largest church in Britain, with assets of £23m, surpassing St Paul’s Cathedral foundation. Its leader, Matthew Ashimolowo, tells his congregation that "God wants you rich!".

KICC already has several branches across England, with up to 12,000 congregants attending some services.