Saturday, 18 February 2012

Mosque for Bury?

According to the Bury Free Press’s front page, the East Anglian Daily Times and Bury Mercury, the Bury branch of the Suffolk Islamic Cultural Association (SICA) is hoping to use the now closed Falcon pub on the corner of Risbygate Street and Victoria Street as a mosque. According to the reports SICA intends to submit a planning application for this “soon”. Whether this application will be just for a change of use rather than a new building is not clear, but in any case permission for change of use would be necessary, and as it is in a conservation area I imagine any external alterations including signs would have to be approved.

If a planning application is submitted, then once it has been registered (following routine checks, e.g. for completeness) a yellow notice will be placed on site and a copy of the application can be viewed by visiting West Suffolk House or the SEBC website.

Anyone interested then has 21 days to submit comments. For further information, click on Planning Matters on the right hand bar...


D.Martin said...

I guess you aware of the obscene and unpleasant comments about our Islamic neighbours which were made, in advance, on a board and then stuck onto the door of the Falcon on Saturday night. This was clearly pre-meditated and not spontaneous insults made by someone on their way home from town.
Doubtless there will be practical concerns about parking from local residents however I fear that any application to make a place of worship other than Christian in Bury St Edmunds, will scratch the surface and bring out the worst in the residents of our comparably pleasant sleepy town.
I urge you to quickly start ddiscussions with the council, police and Bury Free Press to identify how racist action of this kind can be predicted and managed appropriately.

Councillor Paul Farmer said...

No I wasn't aware of this. Thank you for taking the trouble to comment so thoughtfully.

Anonymous said...

Having not seen the sign or the offensive comments, or knowing their content or context.
D.Martins comments clearly indicate the immediate and angry objections to any application of a non-Christian organisation that wishes to be located within a conservation area and Burys historic centre. Surely a return to dwellings is the only logical use for this well loved Old Tavern, particularly as we continue to hear the need for more houses in and around Bury St Edmunds. D.B

Councillor Paul Farmer said...

Thank you for that DB. I too have not seen the material, but it was obviously offensive enough to be removed by the police on Sunday morning.

There already is planning permission to converet this site to three dwellings; although at £325,000 for the plot, I don't imagine they would be of the "affordable" type.

honestkev said...

I don't believe that I am the only person in town that will protest vigorously against any application for a mosque in town.
If you wish to see racism brought to the fore in our little town, this is the way to do it. It would not be in keeping or tradition of the town.
As far as I know there has never been a BNP presence in any number here. Bring this to the fore and things are bound to change.
For once, I would hope that the majority will be listened to on this one. Unfortunately, if the past is anything to go by it will be the minority that has the last word and the rest of us will be expected to put up with it.
Stand up for the majority of us on this one Paul

Councillor Paul Farmer said...

Thanks honestkev.

We have to remember that this is not even a planning application for change of use yet. If and when that application is submitted, the planning authority, which is the borough council via its development control (DC) committee, can only base its decision on:

• central government planning policies;
• policies contained in the development plan - the Suffolk Structure Plan and the Replacement St Edmundsbury Borough Local Plan 2016
• observations made by consultees; and
• representations submitted by members of the public.

Representations have to relate to "material considerations". In the case of a new building this means things like loss of light or privacy to a room, visual amenity and traffic generation. Non-material considerations (which cannot be considered) include loss in property value, boundary positions and personal morals or views about the application.

I am not a member of the DC committee, so although I can address members on an application I am not in a position to decide the outcome.

As always I shall listen to what my electors say and do my best to support their views and what I consider is right for Abbeygate and Bury.

Bury Boy said...

To a degree we live in a bubble here in Bury, sheltered from many changes in the wider community, One only has to look at Ipswich to see how very wrong things can get if due consideration is not taken and a overall approach taken in all aspects of community development. The fact a selction of our community are unable to find a place of worship, is a failing on our collective part, this community is here to stay what ever the minority may wish, and in part may enhance our town. The Falcon in my opininon is not the right place, how ever is it not a function of both the community and council to suggest an alternative. No doubt a number of other community centres, council owned buildings, commercial premises and public houses will close or become vacant, one of which may be ideal.Our community has in the past planned for and made welcome all faiths, CoE, Anglian high and low, CoR (RC), list of non comformists, quakers, UMH,and a few others. either in purpose build buildings, tin huts or redeveloped garden centres or churchs, in the main the new ones have been on the edge of the community rather the "town".

Before some bright spark suggests it, I note there is a vacant property in churchgate street for sale which is suitable for meeting how ever I dont think this is suitable either for totally different reasons.

g. pymer said...

This is not a racism or religous issue as far as we are concerned, we live in victoria street in very close proximity to the falcon, as far as we are concerned it is about protecting the value of the biggest investment that we will ever make, ie our property. we would protest just as vehemently if something equally unsuitable was planned. bigotry however will no doubt play it's part, just this morning my wife witnessed an incident involving 2 people who i assume had an interest in this proposal who were photographing the property and a passing motorist. yes D. Martin there will also be practical concerns about parking and congestion. I guess this makes us NIMBY'S but i dont care.

Councillor Paul Farmer said...

Thank you both for your comments, and my apologies for the weekend delay in posting them.

I appreciate the wise words and honesty, and as with all contributions so far admire the restraint shown. I have not yet had to edit anything, and hope I won't have to...

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with anyone practicing whatever religion they believe in. But I feel is should be done in private and not forced upon those who do not practice it -either in the form of public calls to prayer or non-traditional building design.

My friend works in Newmarket, she says there is a mosque near the Bedford Lodge hotel, plus others, so the iman? who said there were no mosques in nearby towns is incorrect.

Councillor Paul Farmer said...

Thanks Anon. I have been out of the office for a couple of days - hence the delay in posting your comment.

Anonymous said...

We live in Victoria Street which is part of a conservation area. A few years ago a Residents' parking system was introduced with paid car permits for residents (max 2 per household). We find this currently works well.
It is to be hoped that any planning application addresses parking and conservation issues since Siraj Begg in his letter to the Bury Free Press of 24 Feb 2012 indicates that there are approximately 750 Muslims in Newmarket and surrounding areas who are desperately looking for a permanent location to practise their religion, educate their children and for cultural events and meetings.

Councillor Paul Farmer said...

Good to have comments local to the site - thank you. Parking issues would certainly be "material considerations" (see my comment above), and I too noticed that letter.

I am surprised to hear that the permit system "works well", as I have regular complaints that these bays are often used by non-residents.