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Controversial Woodford Green faith centre given green light by inspectors

PUBLISHED: 14:35 28 July 2015 | UPDATED: 15:31 29 July 2015

Cllr Robin Turbefield at the site of the vacant units in Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green, which are set to be turned into the Woodford Muslim Cultural Centre

Cllr Robin Turbefield at the site of the vacant units in Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green, which are set to be turned into the Woodford Muslim Cultural Centre

Archant

A controversial community centre refused planning permission has now been given the green light after inspectors overturned the decision.

Proposals for the Woodford Muslim Cultural Centre, to be built on two vacant shop units in Snakes Lane East, Woodford Green, came before Redbridge Council last year and were refused permission in December.

But the Planning Inspectorate has approved an appeal.

Cllr Robin Turbefield (Bridge, Conservative) told the Recorder he was “astonished”.

He said: “I am shocked that somebody from Bristol could come down and not take into consideration the interests and views of the local community.

“It is not an ideal site for that sort of meeting place and I just think it will create more problems for them in the future.”

Inspector Grahame Gould visited the site on July 7, with his decision only now revealed.

In his report, Mr Gould noted that the applicants plan to use two rooms for prayers, coffee mornings, youth mentoring and careers advice.

He said: “In my opinion, the operation of the community centre would bring people from the local area to this shopping area and assist with maintaining its vitality.”

Cllr Turbefield, who cited issues such as parking, said the council’s only chance of overturning the decision would be through the High Court.

But he added: “We can’t go down that route because of the expense. I wish we had a right of recourse, but we don’t.”

Leader of the opposition Cllr Paul Canal (Bridge, Conservative) said: “Frankly, I am baffled. For a planning inspector to ride roughshod not just over our planning policies, but also the views of local people, is incomprehensible.”

Conditions imposed include a soundproofing scheme and a limit on the centre’s capacity, which has been set at 40 people.

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: “While it is very disappointing that the Planning Inspectorate have allowed this appeal, their grant of permission includes no less than 10 planning conditions.

“These conditions are in place to ensure that the operation of the premises is complementary to the vitality and viability of the Woodford Broadway/Snake Lane local centre, which has always been a key concern to the council.”


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