Author: Dan Brown
On the 19th February, Battersea MP Jan Ellison organised a meeting at Providence House to discuss the plans for the extension of the Falcon Road Mosque. Representatives of the mosque presented their plans to an audience of about 50 people and local concerns were expressed.
The proposal (2012/3747) is labelled as:
Excavation basement to form additional prayer room. Demolition of entrance porch, and construction of a front extension, a front staircase extension, and a new side/rear extension at first and second floor levels creating an office and rear staircase; residential unit on first floor converted into worship area; new dome and minarets to roof.
Consultation period ended 27th December but the plan is still under consideration (the public meeting was organised in February) and there is no date yet for final decision. It is therefore still time for comments.
After consideration of the proposal, CJAG decided to object on the ground of:
1. Scale and Design
The existing Mosque is clearly in need of refurbishment and an upgrade. It is however of a similar scale and size to other buildings on Falcon Road. The new proposals are for a significantly larger building (an increase in size of 44%) which will be taller and will have a larger footprint, especially at the front of the building. Although this new design is to allow for larger capacity no thought has been given to parking and other local congestion issues.
In addition to the size, there is also a proposal to incorporate minarets and a large dome (covering most of the roof) at the top of the building. Although we are not against a Mosque and appreciate the benefits of some architectural elements to characterise the building, the scale of the proposal will significantly change the character of the road, in clear contrast with the rest of the area.
2. Parking and traffic congestion
Numerous local residents have commented on the current problems from visitors to the Mosque causing major parking and congestion problems around the site. The new design proposal has nothing in it to reduce these local pressures and therefore the inevitable increase in visitor numbers can only make them worse.
The new proposals will reduce the space at the front of the building for people to congregate increasing the likelihood of people blocking pavements and spilling into the road at peak times.
4. Noise and Litter
There has been no mention of how the new Mosque will handle the general noise and disruption from large numbers of people gathering in one small place.
5. Falcon Grove Residents
A lack of attention to consulting with and taking into consideration the needs of the people living in the immediate vicinity of the Mosque can only increase local tensions which is far from ideal for such a culturally sensitive planning application.
In addition, we have studied the objection and support letters on The Wandsworth planning site with interest. It is clear that there is significant objection from local residents living in the immediate vicinity of the site. There are no letters of support until the period from 15 February and most of these letters of support are from Mosque users who do not live in the immediate vicinity. We believe that focus should be given to the wishes and concerns of the local people who live alongside the Mosque, especially those who will not be using the centre but who will have to live with the consequences of its expansion.
In conclusion we agree with the Battersea Society (you can read their objection HERE) and other local residents that the real issue is the growth of users of the Mosque beyond the capacity of the small site; the only suitable proposal is to look to move the site of the Mosque to a location where suitable planning can be made for parking and a larger building.
You can download and read our full objection HERE.
If you want to comment on the proposal, all details are:
Ref: Planning Application 2012/3747 – Mosque
Ms. Gemma Bristow
The Planning Service
The Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU
In addition, in order to be more effective, you may copy your message to:
- us, CJAG (post it in our contact box)
- members of the planning committee (by asking your letter to be forwarded to each member of the planning application committee):
- Cllr Nick Cuff (Chair): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Support officer: Ms. Ozu Okere: email@example.com
- Jane Ellison, Battersea MP: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE 04/04/2013: The Planning Officer recommends to APPROVE
Author: Cyril Richert
With disappointment but unfortunately no surprise (Wandsworth planners have got a record to approve plans with no consideration for consultation and local communities) the planning officer has published her report yesterday recommending approval (read HERE).
There was no mention on the level of support coming from all over the country but the local area. The report considers that (quotes from the report):
- new amendments (dome, moon, frontage) should not have adverse effect beside the pair of grade II listed Victorian houses;
- despite the increase in size the dome (in comparison to 2010 approved planning permission) should not be unduly prominent;
- the adjacent properties are 2 storey buildings and the Islamic centre is 3 storeys, and will become 4 storeys;
- the additional second floor would add to bulk and massing of the building, hard onto the pavement which would make the building more dominant; nevertheless it should be acceptable;
- while the application building is clearly unlike any other in the area, the proposed extension could be accommodated;
- given the current state of the building, it could be argued that the works will improve the appearance of the street scene;
- the increase space would still fail to accommodate the total number of worshippers;
- transportation officers consider that the proposed substantial increase in floorspace may result in larger attendances becoming more frequent, therefore a travel plan will be requested;
- it is disappointing and not in compliance with policy DMT2 that the applicant has not proposed any cycle storage;
- observations indicate that a greater number of people arrive by car than in other (similar) Mosques;
- the justification for the application has been to cater for existing worshippers rather than accommodate additional ones. However this cannot be guaranteed (and there is the likelihood that the increase of size will increase the attendance).
Conclusion of the planner: many issues, and the future might be clouded, but fingers crossed it should be fine!
The application will be decided by the Planning Application Committee on April 11th 2013.
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Whilst the concerns regarding traffic congestion and parking are legitimate, I would be interested to know if there is any data regarding how current users of the Mosque travel there.
It may well be that if improvments can be made to the pavements, and cycle parking provision can be made then the concerns regarding motor traffic and parking will not be realised.
There is a common mis-conception held, more-often relating to town centres that car parking is essential for retailers to do business. In Tooting, over 80% of shoppers travel to Tooting town centre without using a car. In spite of this, local traders have asked for car parking charges to be reduced as they consider the smaller than 20% of shoppers that do travel by car to be of greater importance than the majority who don’t.
With 50% of car trips of only 2 miles or less, there is a lot of scope for reduction in congestion by re-allocating car parking spaces to facilitate a better local environment which makes walking/cycling short distances much more attractive than driving.
I have lived right opposite the Mosque for over twenty years and it has increased in numbers by 1,330%. A nominal 50% likened increase over the next 20 years will mean 4,422 people wanting to access the space at the same time. WBC has an entire section of their core strategy on sustainable development however in their recommendation is happy to state ‘The development is, therefore, considered to be balanced on the limits of acceptability.’ April 2013. 04/2014? 04/2015? Today it is on the limits – what about tomorrow? Please if anyone can come to the planning committee meeting April 11th 7.30pm to help support us try to convince the committee that people in Latchmere NOT Lancashire should have the say on this!