Dudley Council defeats Dudley Muslim Association's court challenge over Hall Street mosque land
The Hall Street site
DUDLEY Council has won a legal battle over land earmarked for a replacement mosque in the town.
The Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in favour of the council over its bid to buy back the land in Hall Street from the Dudley Muslim Association (DMA).
The ruling brings the long-running legal dispute to an end as three top judges have ordered the DMA to transfer the land back to the council in January next year.
Earlier this year, the DMA offered to pay the council £325,000 to settle the dispute and retain the land.
The council’s all party Overview and Scrutiny Management Board held a two-day hearing to consider the deal but following their recommendations, cabinet rejected the offer in August.
All members of the scrutiny board unanimously acknowledged the need for a new mosque to replace the existing place of worship in Castle Hill, which is not fit for purpose.
The Court of Appeal judges backed the council’s plans to work with the DMA to find an alternative site.
Councillor Pete Lowe, leader of the council, said: “We welcome the unanimous ruling which made it clear that the council has always acted lawfully and reasonably throughout this process.
“Our open and transparent scrutiny process, supported by all political parties, was crucial in enabling the cabinet to make informed decisions. I hope we can now put this long running issue behind us and move forward in the best interests of the town.
“We have set out very clearly our intention to support the DMA in finding an alternative site. Our door remains open and we will continue to offer to work with the DMA.”
The legal hearings have centred on a contractual dispute dating back to 2005, when the council transferred the land at Hall Street to the DMA. A clause in the contract stated that the land would transfer back to the council if the proposed development was not completed by the end of 2008.
The decision, followed a two day hearing (October 28 and 29) and was in respect of the DMA's appeal against the decision of the High Court in 2014, which ruled in favour of the council buying back the land.
It was expected to be at least four weeks before a decision was made.
The court has also agreed the DMA should pay the council’s legal costs, with the amount currently being decided.