Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Another building falls to Islam. How long before this ‘education centre’ becomes a mosque?

The Northern Echo: Plans to turn a pub in a former pit village into a Muslim educational centre have been approved despite objections from residents over traffic issues.

Businessman Kaiser Choudry applied to turn the disused Melrose Arms in Front Street, Shotton Colliery, County Durham, into an facility for the local Muslim community, comprising ten to 12 families.

But he said the facility would also be available for use by the wider community. (Gee, thanks.)

Durham County Council received 13 letters of objection and a 102-signature petition objecting to the proposed development, as well as four letters of support.

The majority of objections to the plans were about parking problems and the potential for traffic congestion.

However, planning chiefs recommended that Durham County Council’s area planning committee meeting yesterday grant temporary planning permission for 12 months to enable highways chiefs to monitor any impact there may be.

Principal planning officer Alan Dobie said: “While the premises do not have dedicated off-street parking, the lawful use is a public house and this could resume without need for planning permission – potentially creating a greater demand for car parking.

“Controversy was first sparked when Mr Choudry applied to turn the pub into a prayer hall, but these were later withdrawn. The education centre now planned will be open seven days a week and will run numerous classes, but will not include a mosque element. (Yet...)

Mr Choudry said: “I have been in the village for 25 years and the community has been supporting me – I want to give something back to the community. (Islamification?)

Mr Choudry said he had held talks with the local police community support officer with the view to regular meetings at the centre, as well as with youth workers.

Shotton Parish Council has expressed concerns that the centre could be changed to a prayer hall without the need for a further planning application.

But councillors agreed with a planning officer recommendation that further permission be required to do so.

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