Faith education centre backed by city planners

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Controversial plans to turn a second-hand car dealership into a religious education centre in Keighley have secured council officers’ backing.

Critics fear changing the use of the site occupied by Reg Thompson Cars at Bridge Street will lead to parking problems and traffic congestion.

But Bradford Council’s Area Planning Panel for Keighley and Shipley, which will be chaired by Councillor Doreen Lee, will be advised to approve the application when it meets on Wednesday.

The Al-Hidaayah Foundation, a registered charity is behind the scheme. According to its website, the non-profit organisation was set up in 2004 “to serve the spiritual, cultural, educational and social needs of the Muslim community in Keighley”.

The site says that Keighley Al-Hidaayah Foundation is currently working on “an ambitious and visionary project” to create a purpose built education centre which will cater for “all those in the wider community” as well as Muslims.

It adds: “We aim to provide a sanctuary for prayer and knowledge that will preserve the Islamic identity, encompass the true beauty of Islam and unite us to attain success and goodness. We also believe that this centre will greatly complement existing facilities in the vicinity and meet the spiritual, social and civic needs of Muslims across Keighley and beyond.

“We aim to tap the Islamic community’s potential in providing services and positively contributing to the wellbeing of the residents of Keighley.”

The website says Al-Hidaayah Foundation “hopes to help remove the misrepresented image of Islam in our society. We aim to create a centre of excellence by promoting community cohesion by working in collaboration and in partnership with the local Muslims and non Muslims as well as being active member in interfaith dialogue.”

Bradford Council has received eight letters of objection to the scheme just outside Keighley Town Centre Conservation Area. Critics claim that inadequate parking provision will lead to an overspill affecting on street parking in the area and adversely impact on trade to local businesses.

There are fears of traffic congestion and pedestrian safety. Other concerns include “nuisance, noise, fumes, dirt and disturbance.”

However, according to a report to be considered by councillors, the 44 off-street parking spaces the applicant has indicated could be provided in the site, would be “more than adequate” to accommodate the 30 to 40 adults who would use them at peak times.

It says that the proposed change of use “represents a new, viable use of the site/property that will sustain its long-term future and provide a new community facility. It is considered the proposal will not have any negative impact on the character or appearance of Keighley Town Centre Conservation Area or the visual amenities of the surrounding area. The development will have no significant impact on residential amenity, parking, highway safety or community safety.”