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More than 140 responses made to former pub mosque plan with community divided

PUBLISHED: 16:13 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:47 30 November 2018

Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association's community centre on Dereham Road. Picture: Google

Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association's community centre on Dereham Road. Picture: Google

Google

Proposals for a Muslim community centre to be used as a place of worship have divided a community, despite the group already having occupied its base for several years.

The Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association, which is based at the former Queen Charlotte pub on Dereham Road in Norwich, has applied to the city council to use its centre as a mosque.

More than 140 people have submitted feedback to the application, with a near equal outpouring of support and objection to the proposal.

Since the application was lodged in September, 143 comments from the public have been received - 69 supporting the scheme and 67 objecting to it.

Shortly after the application was lodged, an anonymous letter was circulated among neighbours imploring them to submit objections to the scheme.

The letter was written under the heading “Does Norwich need a Mosque here?” and provided instructions on how to object to the application’s consultation.

However, at time of writing, a greater number have come out in support of the plans.

One response said: “I found the letter offensive and akin to inciting racial hatred. Why shouldn’t Muslims be free to worship in peace?”

A considerable number of the objections to the scheme speculate that granting permission would exacerbate traffic and parking issues in the area.

However, Kieran Yates, the city council’s transport planner has raised no such concerns and has not objected to the scheme. However, he said the association would need a robust travel plan to reduce traffic around the site.

He said: “In many ways, a public house with music events shares similarities with a place of worship in that it can attract bursts of traffic at off-peak times.

“It is essential that the premises has a robust travel plan to ensure visitors try to reduce car traffic and parking. Ideally, there would be car sharing and use of walking, cycling and the local bus services.”

The former pub was converted into a community centre by the association in 2011, however, the planning permission granted at the time included a condition that it would not be used as a place of worship.

This condition, though, does not prevent worship from taking place in the centre, but simply means it cannot be its primary purpose.

However, an application to remove this condition will be decided in due course.

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