London skyscraper plans threaten UK's oldest synagogue Bevis Marks

The UK's oldest synagogue is fighting to save its natural light over fears a new skyscraper development would leave the house of worship in near-permanent twilight.

Bevis Marks, which is 320-years-old, is one of the most respected houses of worship in London.

On Friday evenings - at the start of the Jewish sabbath - it takes almost an hour to light up to 240 candles in the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling of its Grade I-listed building.

The proposals, for an office block of 48 floors and another building of 21 floors, are due to be reviewed by the City of London Corporation next month.

Rabbi Shalom Morris told ITV News: "It's completely unbelievable, I want to spend my time leading prayers, teaching classes and yet I'm here trying to protect the synagogue from overdevelopment - a situation I never would have foreseen."

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Rabbi Morris said: "I think it speaks to an insensitivity to the importance of Bevis Marks... It's the only non-Christian house of worship in the City of London, if this site is not meant to be protected, what site is?"

He added: "We're worried that if it becomes more inhospitable place, if the experience is diminished then people will prayer here less often, less weddings will take place here and the ultimate impact of that could lead to a situation where the synagogue would be forced to close."

"That would be a tragedy for the Jewish Community and I think it would be a tragedy for the British community too as well - to have the longest running synagogue of all time be forced to close because of development."

The proposed skyscrapers would significantly reduce the natural lighting in the synagogue. Credit: ITV News

More than 1,000 letters of objection have been sent from academics and multi-faith groups, raising concerns about the impact on the single non-Christian house of worship in the City of London.

As well as holding prayer services, each week the synagogue welcomes visitors and school trips, and hosts lectures and community events in its Grade I-listed building.

Weddings and religious festivals are also celebrated in the courtyard.

The synagogue is also worried about the potential risks of deep drilling in the area for the pile foundations needed for tall buildings and increased noise levels from construction.