October 23 2014 Latest news:
by Laura Burnip, Senior reporter
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
A “unique” new Islamic centre is set to replace a former police station after plans were given the go-ahead.
The old police station on Wangey Road in Chadwell Heath will become the El-Huda Islamic Centre after Redbridge Council approved the plans earlier this month.
Now Cllr Aziz Choudhury has said he welcomed the opening of the centre, which is part of the Al-Huda International Welfare Foundation, a worldwide NGO which provides education and social welfare to people.
Cllr Choudhury said: “It’s actually run by women and it proposes to provide a community facility for children, young people and women.
“As the ward councillor I’m supportive of it. It’s unique and that’s something I welcome.”
But residents living near the new centre feared there would be problems with traffic and parking, with the application not including any new parking spaces.
Nicola Wood, of Ballards Road, said in a letter to the council: “Residents don’t want any more [mosques], the noise is a nuisance and traffic will be bad with it.”
And John Tooke, of Edward Road, said extra cars would be “problematic”.
Following the council decision this month, Dave Hagger, who lives on Edgar Road, said he felt the authority should have done more to make residents aware of the plans.
“Nobody was told about it,” he said.
“The residents’ main concerns are the traffic, the noise and the parking.”
But Cllr Choudhury said people visiting the centre could use the pay and display car park on Station Road.
And he dismissed rumours the neighbouring Mecca Bingo Hall, which closed its doors last month, was also set to become a mosque after he was contacted by residents.
“There was this other rumour that the bingo hall was going to be turned into a mosque. They are two separate things,” he said.
Cllr Choudhury said he wanted to see the empty bingo hall become a “much-needed swimming pool and leisure centre” for Redbridge – and said he did not want to see it become flats.
Responding to Mr Hagger, Redbridge Council said it contacted 165 residents living closest to the site to notify them of the application.
A spokesman said: “This is significantly more than the statutory requirement, which would just cover those sharing a boundary with the site. The details of the application were also available to view on the Council’s website.
“Anyone who responded to the consultation letter would have then received a letter making them aware that the application was being considered at Regional Planning Committee South.
“This is the normal procedure for planning applications.”
She said despite concerns about traffic and parking, the plans were recommended for approval subject to conditions of no more than 60 people being on the premises at one time, the drawing up of a travel plan for visitors, and stewards being deployed for major events.