Mosque plan set for approval despite concerns over traffic

A controversial bid to allow an Islamic education centre in Bradford to be used as a mosque looks set to be approved.

Bradford Council's area planning panel will be advised to back the application to vary a condition of planning permission to allow worship for all members of the community at the madrasa in Heaton Road, Manningham, when it meets today.

The panel will also be advised to support removing a condition limiting its use from 9.30am until 7.30pm each day.

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Altogether 67 people signed a petition supporting the bid but a further 110 people have put their names to three petitions objecting to the changes.

The council has also received five individual letters of support from local councillors as well as 57 further letters backing the bid plus 26 letters of objection.

Critics have raised concerns about highway safety, pointing out there is no parking space at the site.

They have claimed that the building is unsuitable for the proposed use, local people do not use the site and have said there is no need for another mosque in the area – as there are others nearby.

Opponents have also claimed that nearby residents will be affected by more noise levels and anti-social behaviour.

However, those supporting the change said the site provides an important community facility for local people and is well used.

They claim the facility does not generate any significant noise and that the number of people using cars to travel there will be kept to a minimum as it is within walking distance of most of those who use it.

They also say that no highways safety implications have materialised as a result of the use or any "significant disturbance" to surrounding residents.

Supporters claim that the conditions imposed on the previous planning permission are "unjustified in terms of the restrictions they impose, particularly given the approval of unrestricted similar uses within close proximity of the site."

Heaton Councillor Rizwan Malik said: "We are not talking about a massive building or a huge institute that will create a whole lot of traffic problems or issues with the local community.

"It is a very small education centre which teaches children Arabic and Islamic studies," he said.

"The madrasa wants to be able to allow those children and their parents to pray there too. It is a well located facility, it's close to quite a densely populated residential area. The vast majority of parents who send their children go there on foot. People who will hopefully use it if the planning goes through will be local residents. I am pretty confident that a lot of residents and the general public will benefit from it."

A report to be considered by the panel says that removing a restriction on the times when the premises can be used and allowing worship for all members of the community at the centre "is not considered, with the proposed highway improvements and promotion of Traffic Regulation Order close to the site, to result in significant highway safety implications."

It adds: "The additional impact on residential amenity is considered to be slight and conditions to control the nature of the use are considered sufficient to protect the amenities of the surrounding properties."

Planning permission was granted in 2005 for the building to be used as a madrasa on the ground floor.