A worrying new trend has developed allowing “stealth mosques” to spring up at formerly council owned community centres.
As local authorities look to unload any financial burdens, many are leasing out council owned and publicly built community centres to “community associations” to manage.
There seems to be little restriction on who can set up a community association, and little due dilligence from the councils as to how it will be run.
Community centres benefit from a generic D1 use permission, and as such can be used as a place of worship.
One community centre in Barking & Dagenham has already been handed over to a “community association”, who`s first order of business was to issue a council approved sub let to the local Islamic Association (who have been monopolising the centre for years). Local residents now face years of parking Jihad every Friday with little protection from the council.
There have already been documented cases of community centres being run covertly as mosques. The one in the story below has banned alcohol and music from the centre.
Unless the community associations clearly breach any conditions or rules included in their lease (relating to use or inclusion), there is little that you can do legally.
We advise that you check with your local councillors, if a community association is being formed to manage your local community center…get yourself involved.
Tremendous news from Essex, where South Woodford residents have again stopped plans to expand the Qur’ani Murkuz Trust in Mulberry Way.
This is the third application (and the second appeal to the Planning Inspectorate) !
The planning inspector said “I consider that the proposal would have a negative effect on the environmental and social roles of sustainability and that this would outweigh the limited economic benefit. As such, the proposal would not amount to sustainable development and does not benefit from the presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in Framework paragraph 14. Conclusion 20″.
The full decision can be viewed here (look at the decision doc):-
Congratulations to local residents, who have vowed to keep fighting. The applicants have already indicated that they submit another application.
Man the ramparts !
Great news from Greater Manchester where local residents have forced the the Altrincham & Hale Muslim Association (AHMA) to withdraw a controversial application to build a new Islamic community centre on Green Belt in Timperley.
Locals organised demos, petitions and fundraising to fight this awful application on yet another section of Green Belt land. This seems to be a worrying trend.
Despite the withdrawal, local residents will remain on watch since a strategic development plan submitted by Greater Manchester Council is proposing quite widespread building on Green Belt areas (including Timperley). If passed and adopted, it may give the AHMA grounds to resubmit (setting a dangerous legal precedent for the protection of Green Belt zones).
This one may not be over just yet.
So no sign of the application yet, despite lots of promises that it will be presented “in the next few weeks”.
The Altrincham & Hale Muslim Association have applied to have the Environmental Impact Assessment waived, since they claim to have completed surveys already covering the subject. Call us old cynics, but if you commission a survey from a company they are hardly likely to come up with results that harm your application. We do hope Trafford Council insist on the full EIA.
The smart money is now that the application will go in over Christmas (an old ploy) , hoping to catch the locals napping.
Having spoken to the residents groups, we know they are ready to deliver 20,000 leaflets and objection letters. And another demonstration is ready to go.
Now that`s commitment !
Watch this space for further updates.
The rather odd machinations of the Bolton planning committee continue. Sadly for local residents they have approved a second application for a 3,000 capacity mosque in Great Lever, Bolton. It`s clear to us at Mosqueblock, that the council are behind this second application to cover up a previous legal error. Complaints to the Chief Exec and the Local Government Ombudsman are still ongoing.
A local activist spoke against the application, and made some strong points that many of the councilors clearly agreed with.One councilor felt that the public had been deliberately misled by the applicants. It was not a unanimous vote like last time.
However, after reviewing the footage of the meeting it may appear that another error may have been made. We find this amazing, were the Planning Department asleep during the meeting ? Were Legal Services present ? More complaints to follow.
The Planning Committee were recently audited by the Planning Advisory Service, and were told to make improvements (not that the council will release the full report). The Head of Planning resigned, rather than face further scrutiny.
We predict an awkward few months for the council. Sadly none of this will help the local residents who will face a tidal wave of cars every Friday.
Keep fighting !
Following the council`s potentially illegal approval of the last application on this site in Bolton, we have a new application (which we will cover in a separate blog).
On 25/08/16 Bolton`s planning committee passed an application for “ERECTION OF A MOSQUE AND COMMUNITY CENTRE” (ref 95548/15). This included a last minute revision to demolish the existing mosque, which was added to the conditions of the approval. This is of course, a material change and as such should have been referred back to the public for consultation.
Local residents quite rightly sought legal advice, and although there was a case to answer were unable to raise the funds necessary for a Judicial Review. Complaints to the council`s Standards Committee and the Local Government Ombudsman are live and ongoing. There have been angry protests already at council meetings !
The new application is an attempt by the applicants to head off any legal action, by including the demolition of the existing building to the application.
Bolton Council are currently under the scrutiny of the Planning Advisory Service following an inquiry into practices at the Planning committee stage. A report is due in three weeks.