Is­lamic group de­fends plans for mosque in park­ing row

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Ge­orge Makin Staff Re­porter

AMUSLIM group has be­come em­broiled in a plan­ning row for the sec­ond time in two years over a pro­posed mosque in Smeth­wick.

The scheme has led to sev­eral com­ments on a com­mu­nity Face­book page claim­ing it will cause se­ri­ous traf­fic prob­lems.

But the Gam­bian Is­lamic Cen­tre has said fears that its pro­posed com­mu­nity cen­tre and mosque in Bear­wood Road would lead to park­ing chaos are un­founded.

Lamin Yaffa, the group’s chair­man, de­fended the ap­pli­ca­tion which is ask­ing per­mis­sion to con­vert a former so­lic­i­tor’s of­fice into a place of wor­ship, which could ac­com­mo­date 250 peo­ple. More than 400 com­ments ap­peared on the Bear­wood page against the plans.

Other posts pointed out that in 2016, the Gam­bian Is­lamic Cen­tre was or­dered to close its former mosque on Wind­mill Lane, Cape Hill, be­cause of park­ing prob­lems.

Lamin Yaffa in­sisted fears over park­ing had been over­stated.

He said: “Smeth­wick is our home and our fol­low­ers live in and around this area, so many of them will walk to or use pub­lic trans­port to come to pray.

“The busiest time will be Fri­day prayers but we don’t see 50 or 60 cars turn­ing up to block lo­cal roads and dur­ing the rest of the week we ex­pect maybe only ten to 15 peo­ple a day us­ing the cen­tre.”

The plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion states there would be park­ing on site for six cars but the cen­tre plans to in­crease that to 15.

At the week­end, he ex­plained, the build­ing would serve as an ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre giv­ing ad­di­tional tuition to chil­dren.

Of­fer­ing to speak with lo­cal peo­ple over their con­cerns, he added: “Smeth­wick is also our com­mu­nity and we live and work be­side its res­i­dents. If they have con­cerns then con­tact us and we can talk about our plans and what we hope to do.”

The plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion is ex­pected to be heard by Sandwell Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee in Oc­to­ber.

> The former so­lic­i­tor’s of­fice

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