A controversial plan for a new mosque in Dudley has won the backing of council officers ahead of a decision this month – despite more than 800 people objecting to the proposal.
Dudley Muslim Association wants to build the 52ft high curved roof mosque with 62ft high minaret in Hall Street, along with a two-storey car park in Hall Street. The planning application was revised from a previously failed bid for the place of worship, which had the mosque at a height of 109ft – but it has still attracted 885 letters of objection.
Opposition has come in over the size of the three-storey mosque and the lack of parking, plus fears over congestion. A total of 370 letters of support and a petition for the application with 1,718 signatures were sent to the council.
Councillor Steve Waltho also weighed in with support for the proposal, saying it would bring the community together and transform an ‘eye-sore’ site.
In a report to councillors ahead of a development control meeting to decide on the proposal next week, officers said: “The design and appearance of the proposed development, along with the proposed landscaping of the site, is considered to be acceptable and the proposal is considered to have sufficiently overcome the previous reasons for refusal.”
It continued: “In dealing with this application the local planning authority have worked with the applicant in a positive and proactive manner, seeking solutions to problems arising in relation to dealing with the application, by seeking to help the applicant resolve technical detail issues where required and maintaining the delivery of sustainable development. The development would improve the economic, social and environmental concerns of the area.”
If approved, the plans could still be halted by a High Court hearing next year. It relates to an on-going battle between the association and Dudley Council over the land.
Outline planning permission was approved for the scheme in 2008 following a planning inquiry. But the council wants the land back, having earmarked it for development. The council won a High Court case for a trigger in a buy-back clause for the land, but this was appealed by the association. The hearing will take place early next year at the Court of Appeal in London.
The association wants to build the mosque, having said previously that the current mosque on Castle Hill is not big enough for the numbers attending.
Dudley Council Leader Councillor David Sparks said: “This application makes no difference to the legal challenge. Even if the Dudley Muslim Association were to win the challenge it wouldn’t mean Dudley Council handed the land back the next day. Anyone can make a planning application for any piece of land.”
Update: See “Rejecting plans for Dudley mosque will cost hundreds of thousands”, Express & Star, 10 November 2014