Local residents pulled off a stunning victory in East London last night.
The Faizan E Islam Trust had purchased the historic Waltham Oak last year , paying just under a million pounds for the site. An application was submitted to Waltham Forest Council for a “change of use” from a pub to a D1 Place Of Worship/Community Centre/Residential use.
Local residents were horrified , not only is the pub a historic landmark in the borough……there is only limited onsite parking. The applicants cheerfully admitted at the Planning Committee hearing that 250 worshippers could easily be accommodated by the 20 onsite parking spaces. Clearly maths isn`t their strong point !
The applicants then wheeled out their star speakers , a wacky priest and two Muslim councillors (doing their duty) , who gave rather embarrassing and unintelligible speeches. One councillor even suggested that the committee would refuse the application if they heard worshippers breathing noisily ( I kid you not ).
Two local objectors spoke , and gave well balanced and sincere speeches. They outlined their concerns with clarity and dignity , something that the supporters failed to achieve.
After a long debate (made longer by a councillor clearly enjoying playing to the large crowd) , the committee voted to refuse the application.
Planning committee chair Peter Barnett , said the committee had a good track record of approving mosques but he did not support this application. The loss of a pub is an important consideration. Removing a pub from that area will devastate the night time economy and pubs are dropping off at an alarming rate. This will generate a great deal of traffic and parking problems. I would be happy to support a mosque in another place but this is the wrong place to have a mosque.”
As we left the hearing , a group of 50 or so supporters had gathered on the Town Hall steps…and were heard making comments about discrimination , and that they would appeal.
A spokesperson for the Save The Waltham Oak group said “The council reached the correct decision for the local residents , we will oppose any appeal”