New Muslim community centre recommended for approval (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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New Muslim community centre in Walthamstow recommended for approval
Plans to open a new Muslim cultural centre have been recommended for approval.
The bid, to convert and extend an empty shop and flat in Higham Hill Road, Walthamstow, is set to go to a vote of the council's planning committee on Tuesday.
It includes proposals for a bookshop at the front of the building and a single-storey rear extension to provide space for a variety of classes.
Plans for a similar but larger cultural centre were rejected last year amid concerns about the scale of the development.
During a consultation one neighbour objected to the plans, citing fears about the impact on parking and saying there were already other similar facilities nearby.
But 32 people sent letters and emails in support of the application, 23 of which were from residents living close by.
They said it would help boost local businesses and that there was not a community centre like it in the area.
Council officers have recommended the plans be approved as long as the capacity of the centre be limited to 20 people at any one time, which they say would limit any problems with parking.
A report by officers said: "consideration of this application is primarily a matter of balancing the harm the use might cause to nearby residents against the evident need for this facility."
It adds: "As far as officers have been able to identify within a radius of 400
metres of the site, the only properties with community-type uses are
two schools and three places of worship.
"None of these cater for the Muslim community.
"There would therefore seem to be a need for this facility in this area and the representations received in support of this scheme bear this out."
In November 2011 Waltham Forest Council issued an enforcement notice on the site following complaints it was illegally being used as a place of worship and education centre.
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