السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
BELPER EDUCATION CENTRE
As you aware we have submitted a planning application in respect of the property situated at 86 Belper Street, Leicester. The proposal is for a change of use from workshop/offices to a nursery and education centre (madressah) with a small prayer room.
The application is due to be heard by the Planning and Development Control Committee (“the Committee”) on Wednesday 13 December 2017 at 17:30. It has become an incredibly controversial application with thousands of objections being sent in to officials. The Leicester City Council (“the Council”) has received 1435 objections and two petitions in objection with 3569 signatures. Keith Vaz MP has also objected to the proposal. The number of representations in support of the application total 350.
The Council has prepared a report for the Committee and recommends that the application be refused. It notes that the objections relate to: “noise and disturbance from on-street activity early in the morning and late at night, on street parking problems, traffic congestion, residential amenity and community cohesion”. It goes on to state that the: “main issues are the impact on residential amenity, traffic and parking, noise and general disturbance”.
The Council’s recommendation notes that the concerns regarding community cohesion or other issues relating to religion are not material planning considerations and will therefore not be taken into account. Furthermore, it considers that conditions can be implemented to address concerns relating traffic and parking.
However, the Council is concerned about the potential impacts in terms of noise and disturbance upon the amenity of nearby residential occupiers.
The hours for the proposed use for the nursery and education centre with prayer hall would be 0730-2300 hours daily. We requested 30 minutes before sunrise for the months from February to November every year for the observance of prayer. The Council considers that these proposed hours of use, with activity and people coming and going from the premises early in the morning and late in the evening would have significant detrimental impact on the residential amenity of neighbours in terms of noise and disturbance. At first glance, this appears to be a valid concern. Accordingly, we emailed the Council to propose reduced hours of use to minimise the impact on our neighbours. However, we were informed that this would make no difference whatsoever to the recommendation to the Committee. This was incredibly shocking to hear and has made us question the reasoning behind the recommendation. We are concerned that the overwhelming number of objections received in opposition to the application played a huge part in recommending refusal. Most of these objections were based on the fact that the application in respect of a centre for Muslims in an area that is predominantly Hindu. Whilst the recommendation asserts that matters relating to religion have been ignored, we feel that this is simply disingenuous.
The Council agreed in principle to recommend approval before the objections were received. It has obviously changed its stance and we believe that this may have something to do with the Islamophobic sentiment that has been expressed in the objections. In any event, we feel that the Council’s unwillingness to reconsider the recommendation in light of the amended hours of use is indicative of their unreasonable and rigid attitude towards this application.
We strongly feel that this decision and position is politically charged and discriminatory. This type of bias needs to be addressed as it will adversely affect the future treatment of planning applications.
WE WOULD LIKE THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY TO DO THE FOLLOWING:
a) email their support to our application using their own words or using the above; and
b) request a fair and impartial determination to the people listed below:
Director of Planning
Head of planning
Jonathan Ashworth mp
Secondly, we would appreciate it if you would attend the meeting on Wednesday 13 December 2017 at the City Hall to show your support.
Address: City Hall, 115 Charles street, LE1 1FZ
Lastly (and most importantly) we humbly request that you remember us in your duas and in particular request that Allah Ta’ala makes the application and the proposed centre a success.
جزاك الله خيراً