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Pub rescue group ‘delighted’ at mosque refusal
A group who help to rescue pubs from demolition or conversion have spoken out in support of a decision to refuse an application for a new mosque.
Around 200 people gathered outside a packed council chamber on Tuesday night as Waltham Forest Council’s planning committee decided on the application from the Faizan-e-Islam organisation to convert the Waltham Oak in Lea Bridge Road, Walthamstow.
The Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), which supports communities to save their local pubs from closure and demolition, said it was “delighted” the bid was rejected.
James Watson Pubs Preservation Officer for the East London & City branch of CAMRA, said: “More and more local authorities are at last beginning to realise what important community facilities our pubs are and are taking measures to save them.
“In East London we have lost 52 per cent of our pubs over the last 30 years and we are pleased that the tables are slowly beginning to turn.”
CAMRA registered a formal objection to the proposa, along with supporters of the ‘Save the Waltham Oak’ campaign, as it says the pub, which has been closed for a year, has a “long and distinguished history” dating back to the 1800s.
A pub was first built on the site in 1846 and called ‘Little Wonder’, named after the horse which won the 1840 Derby at odds of 50-1.
The pub was renamed the Chestnut Tree in 1863 as Lea Bridge Road was famous for lines of chestnut trees, planted in 1814 and removed in the 1930s.
The pub was bought by the Taylor Walker Brewery in 1899, rebuilt in its present form in 1925 and re-opened as the refurbished Waltham Oak in 2005.
Mr Watson added: “We now trust that the owners of the Waltham Oak will put aside their plans to turn this pub into a Mosque and seek a more suitable site for such a development.”
CAMRA is urging Faizan-e-Islam to put the premises back on the market at a "fair and reasonable price" so that a potential pub operator could buy it and bring it back into community use.
Residents and committee members expressed concern at the loss of a landmark historical pub at the planning meeting, but the application was denied on the grounds of potential disturbance to people living in sheltered housing next door and predicted parking congestion in the area at prayer times.
Faizan-e-Islam vowed to appeal against the council’s decision with the support of other faith leaders such as Father Steven Saxby, Parish Priest at St Barnabas Vicarage in St Barnabas Road, Walthamstow, who spoke out against the decision yesterday.