Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Barking mosque that erected illegal marquee granted expansion

Part of the extension will link the Islamic centre to the Bengal Lancer
Part of the extension will link the Islamic centre to the Bengal Lancer
A mosque that flouted planning rules has been granted permission to expand – despite objections from its neighbours.
Akanjee Foundation Islamic Centre was given the go-ahead at a council planning meeting on Monday to erect a single-storey rear extension and first floor extension joining onto the Bengal Lancer restaurant.
The Longbridge Road mosque’s expansion bid was to replace an illegally-erected marquee used to accommodate newcomers from a Goodmayes mosque under repair.
But angry residents complained the mosque also put loudspeakers outside the building so outdoor worshippers could hear the Imam – which council officers witnessed for themselves on Friday.
Kevin O’Sullivan, 41, lives in Cranleigh Gardens which backs on to the site and said the noise has driven him mad.
“When it went up [the marquee] we put up with it because we have a lot of Muslim friends and we didn’t want to upset anyone,” he said. “But it got so bad with the sleep deprivation.”
“From hearing it constantly and then trying to get up at five o’clock in the morning – it grinds you down. It drives me wild. I don’t want to have it anymore.”
Kevin said that he had spent £2,500 on double-glazed windows but he could still hear the prayers over his television.
But Cllr Bill Turner backed the expansion, saying that a permanent and council-approved build subject to conditions such as the removal of any loudspeakers and religious activity from areas outside its walls, would be a “win-win” situation for residents and worshippers alike.
“It seems to me common sense that if the marquee was replaced with bricks and mortar that the noise problem will be reduced,” he said. “We are looking at a win-win situation – a more permanent structure will be effective at containing the noise.”
Cllr Syed Ahammad, who attends the mosque, was not convinced by the noise compaints.
“You say it’s noise but there’s noise everywhere – it’s a town centre,” he said.
Kevin also asked how a building the same size as the marquee could contain the worshippers, when they currently congregate for prayers in the car park precisely because the space is not sufficient.
The expansion was granted with unanimous agreement.

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