How To Fight Mosque Planning Applications 101- Chapter Two……Getting Started.

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Once the application has been accepted and published online by the council , you`ll need to get busy quickly.

The application may well be a “change of use” , meaning that it`s a building being used for a different purpose at present. All buildings are categorised by use:-
http://p4l.co.uk/guidtocomuse.html

Most mosque applications are now being described as a “D1 Community/Islamic Cultural/Education Centre “. Don`t be fooled by this , once the D1 permission is granted it can be used primarily as a Place of Worship without reapplying (unless the council passes it with conditions that it cannot be used for worship)

A coordinated approach is best , I recommend using free social media sites. Set up a Facebook page or Twitter account , and organise some admins to run it. You will always attract the racist elements , just ban them and delete any inappropriate comments. You are local residents and it`s a local issue , don`t get sidetracked by politics or other stuff going on. Your Facebook page should just be used to give the local residents the info they need to object.

Ignore epetitions and paper petitions in the first instance , the only thing that defeats planning applications are OBJECTIONS FROM LOCAL RESIDENTS.

Objections can be registered online (the councils are only obliged to run this option for 21 days) , by email or in writing. Normally you can still object in writing or by email , up until the day of the Planning Hearing. Objections may be made by anyone, regardless of whether they were consulted individually. Although immediate neighbours carry the most weight. You can object about:

  • Loss of light or overshadowing.
  • Overlooking or loss of privacy.
  • Visual appearance (for example, design, appearance and materials).
  • Layout and density of buildings.
  • Traffic generation, highway safety or adequacy of parking.
  • Noise, smells and disturbance resulting from use.
  • Loss of trees.
  • Effect on listed buildings or conservation areas.
  • Relevant planning policies (for example, government policy statements, the London Plan, the local development plan and supplementary planning guidance). Check out your council`s Core Strategy.
  • Is the application on Green Belt or designated Stratetegic Development land ?

The one`s in bold are your best arguments.

 

It`s not a bad idea to print up some flyers or leaflets , and deliver them by hand to the immediate neighbours to the site. You may only need to do 500 or so. You should include a link to your Facebook page , and details about the application (and the reference number)….and why they should object. You can also include all the contact details for the council , and explain how to object. Include details of how objectors can contact their local councillors , since you will also need them working on your behalf. MP`s are not worth bothering with , they will just refer you back to the council.

Your first target is to get at least 20 objections , which should be enough to be deemed as “significant public interest”. This takes the decision out of the hands of the Planning Officers , and you`ll get to present your case to the Planning Committee (sometimes called the Development Control Board) at a public hearing. The Planning Officer will still prepare a report , and make a recommendation (refuse/approve). Don`t assume that’s the final decision. Planning Committee`s quite often vote against the Planning Officers recommendation.

In Chapter Three we`ll show you how to compile the case for refusal.

How To Fight Mosque Applications 101 – Chapter One…..Finding Out

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Most applications are missed by locals. Borough councils only have a minimal statutory duty to inform immediate neighbours. It`s probably fair to say that a number of applications have sneaked through unannounced , which would suit the applicants. The definition of “neighbours” varies from council to council , but never extends more than a couple of hundred metres from the site.

Local papers are often a good source of info , they sometimes publicise plans for applications months in advance. Probably a good idea to start making plans , but you`ll need to watch for when the planning application is formally submitted before you start getting busy.

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/sheffield-pub-mosque-plan-proving-controversial-1-5928109

Council planning sites are easy to access. You can search by keyword , address or view weekly list. You can also phone the Planning Department , they are obliged to talk to you…and are governed by the Freedom Of Information Act. But be polite , they are only doing a very boring job ! Here`s an example

http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/planning/services/search/

The sites will be either Simple Search (SS) or Weekly Lists (WL).

The Simple Search are easiest , just type in “D1” or “D1 Community Centre” and it`ll show you any applications for the D1 category (which covers mosques). The most recent will be at the top.

Weekly Lists are harder , you`ll need to select the current week …and read through the lot , but only Applications Registered. Look for “Change Of Use” , and anything that mentions D1 or Islamic. Some pages you have to set a search period.

New applications are published on Friday afternoon

Local intelligence is also useful , but beware of false rumours !

How To Fight Mosque Planning Applications 101- Introduction

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Welcome to the page. I`ve set out to write a simple guide to fighting mosque planning applications. Too many go through unopposed , and unnoticed. Once the application is approved , there is very little you can do….unless you have 30k to fund a Judicial Review in the High Court.

The key to winning is prompt action , and getting bodies on the streets……and I don`t mean flash demos. You will be dealing with Planning Officers and Planning Committee`s , small flash demo`s do very little to help. It should not be your first option.

Small groups of local residents can successfully take on applications and win , and it doesn`t cost a fortune to do ! One local campaign I helped with cost just £20.00 in printing costs , and we won !

I`ll split the various stages into sections , use them as reference guide to help your campaign. Don`t be intimidated by the council websites , and letter writing – I`ll include some template letters you can use.

I`m not a planning lawyer ,  all my info comes from my own research.  I spent many hours in the public gallery at Planning Hearings. Everything you read here is achievable with half a dozen volunteers , and a facebook page !

 

 

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