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Plans submitted for mosque expansion in South Woodford

PUBLISHED: 13:33 06 February 2019

Resident Laura Piercy Farley outside of the Woodford Mosque in Mulberry Way. She is concerned by plans to expand the building. Photo: Ken Mears

Resident Laura Piercy Farley outside of the Woodford Mosque in Mulberry Way. She is concerned by plans to expand the building. Photo: Ken Mears

Archant

Plans have been submitted to expand a mosque in South Woodford.

Plans have been submitted for a three-storey building and basement. Photo: Ken MearsPlans have been submitted for a three-storey building and basement. Photo: Ken Mears

The Quarani Murkuz Trust (QMT) has applied to demolish the existing place of worship in Mulberry Way and replace it with a three-storey building and basement.

This is not the first time the organisation has tried to expand the site and in 2017 the group were denied permission over concerns with car parking.

Qaiser Malik, QMT secretary, said the larger building will still have a maximum occupancy of 250 members at any given time and they have not had “any complaints in the last three years” even on a Friday when more worshippers visit to pray.

“We have filed an application for planning in accordance with the guidelines given by the inspector in his previous report regarding our last application – which was originally withdrawn by the council’s planning department about 48 hours before it was to be heard on the grounds there wasn’t sufficient lease left on our car park,” he said.

“We have since negotiated a long-term lease on a revised rent and we have taken on board conditions and parameters set by the council and the inspector.

“We have tried to comply with all the regulation required for planning of a building of this size.

“The building will not exceed the height of surrounding buildings.”

Mr Malik said lots of events are held at the mosque for the wider community, including police meetings and multi-faith forums and the congregation clean the road twice a year.

“We are not just there as a place of worship but we try to give a helping hand to residents and we clear snow when it is cold, collect food and funds for the homeless and regularly contribute to Haven House,” he added.

“Only when we put an application in to improve the outlook of the area, we get complaints from a few members of the public – there are more than 60 houses but only a couple of people have complained.

“We quietly carry on good work in the community, without beating a drum.”

Concerned residents however have spoken out against the plans and are urging like-minded individuals to raises objections by the deadline of February 14.

Linda Piercy Farley of Mulberry Way, speaking on behalf of a group of residents living in surrounding roads, said it is a huge “source of disappointment that we find ourselves in these repeated circumstances”.

“The developers for the mosque have submitted plans which are even more ambitious than the previous two planning permission applications, which were dismissed twice by the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol,” she said.

“The immediate and obvious concerns are the scale of the building, the design and its context being so out of the local character with the predominantly Victorian houses that surround it.

“We are also extremely concerned at the lack of notice given to the local residents and the lack of transparency we have with the council.

“The council have recently issued a 20-year car park lease to the QMT trust for the users of the Mosque - we want to know how this decision was made?

“The car park was designated in the Redbridge Plan for the community, citing it could become a local park but this transaction clearly does not benefit us.”

While the band of residents said they are more than happy for a mosque to operate out of South Woodford for the local Muslim community, they say a building of that size will draw in worshippers from across London and place pressure on parking.

“I would object to any building of that size whether it was a church or a Tesco,” she added.

“When local amenities are so lacking, business car park spaces are in such short supply and the council knew that this car park was contentious why was this lease given to the mosque without appropriate consultation?

“We feel very let down by the council and deeply concerned about this planning application.”

Redbridge Council cannot comment at this time as a planning application is live.

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