Friday, 2 August 2013

Mosque Appeal Document

Click to enlarge
As mentioned on this blog on Tuesday, the applicant wanting to turn the old bank Chambers into a Mosque has lodged an appeal against last December’s Development Control Committee decision to turn the application down. We all found this out from letters which arrived last week, many (if not all) which were dated 25th July but post marked 29th July, about the appeal which was lodged on the 15th of July, giving us six weeks from the 15th to make representation but in reality giving us less than four. While questions need to be asked about the avoidable loss of two important weeks, the focus must be on getting good submissions into The Planning Inspectorate that robustly set out whatever position you might hold, taking into account the Grounds of Appeal put forward by the applicant.

Now fortunately this doesn’t mean we each have to arrive at 24 Denmark Road, Carshalton and form an orderly queue to go inside Sutton Council’s Environmental Services office and read the appeal documentation during normal work hours as stated in the letter. Someone who wishes only to be known as ‘Sherlock Hamptons’ has managed to solve the case of the missing appeal and has in turn passed the appeal documents onto a few local campaigners and also to this blog. He has informed me that the Sutton Council officer told him that this information “should already be within the public domain” and so in good faith I am posting the important sections here. (I am looking to upload a downloadable version of the entire document when I can.)

It is also duly noted that, similar to the application last year, this appeal has been timed to coincide exactly with the summer holidays, perhaps when people have less time to read, worry about, scrutinize and object to planning applications? Surely it must only be a coincidence.

Type of Appeal

To start with the applicant wanted an Inquiry (as opposed to Written representations or a Hearing) as choice of procedure. Their reason given for this was that:
“There is a high level of public interest in the case.” 
In a supplementary statement the applicant has stated that:
“The issues are complex as the issue of whether the proposed mosque would affect the available parking spaces on surrounding roads or give rise to conditions prejudicial to highway safety is in contention. 
The transport expert's opinions are in dispute and can only be satisfactorily resolved by cross examination by a legally qualified advocate. 
In this case, the Written Representations and Hearing procedures are not suitable as the proposal have generated significant local interest.” 
(This was in answer to “Why it is essential for the Inspector to enter the site (continued)”).

However The Planning Inspector Case Officer has decided not to allow the Inquiry Procedure but instead decided to use the ‘Hearing’ procedure. He states:
“The appellant asked for this appeal to be dealt with by the inquiry procedure. However, we have applied the criteria and considered all representations received, including the appellant's preferred choice. We consider that the hearing procedure is the most suitable for this appeal as, based on the evidence before us, we are not satisfied that an inquiry will be necessary. In our view the issues of parking and highway safety and the absence of a Planning Obligation raised by the grounds of appeal and Council's reasons for refusal would benefit from an informal discussion led by the Inspector at a hearing, but cross examination will not be necessary and there is no evidence that legal submission will need to be made.
We therefore intend to determine this appeal by this procedure.” 
Grounds of Appeal

More importantly, the actual Grounds of Appeal as set out by the applicant are as follows:
1.1 In June 2012, an application was submitted which sought permission for a permanent change of use from vacant offices to a place of worship. The Council refused the application, under ref: A2012/660501FUL, and that decision is the subject of this appeal. The decision notice, dated 6th December 2012, alleged two reasons for refusal. 
1.2 The first reason for refusal alleged that the proposal failure to provide any off-street car parking spaces results in insufficient parking provision in an area with high levels of demand for on-street parking, which would exacerbate existing parking pressures on surrounding roads, giving rise to conditions prejudicial to highway safety and thus causing danger and inconvenience to all users of the public highway contrary to Policy DN22 of the Site Development Policies Development Plan Document March 2012. The second reason for refusal alleges that in the absence of a S106 agreement or Unilateral Undertaking, the proposal would fail to provide adequate contributions towards a variety of environmental improvements and community benefits and would not provide for adequate cycle storage. This would be contrary to policy DP2 of the Core Planning Strategy and SPD 5 'Planning Obligations'. 
1.3 It should be noted that the Officer's report (a copy is attached) on the refused application scheme (ref: A20l2/66050IFUL) addressing to the Planning Committee confirms that the proposed change of use is acceptable in terms of Land Use, Design and Layout, Impact on Neighbours, and other Material Considerations such as noise and disturbance, loss of privacy, flooding, crime, wildlife and refuse and recycling arrangements. There are no planning issues other than available parking spaces only on Fridays and Festivals days when the proposed mosque was expected to accommodate its maximum capacity of 140 people (only 60 prayer sessions per year). There are no parking or traffic issues to use of the building as a place of worship on a daily basis as it is expected only 10-15 people attending anyone prayer which would be less than in comparison with its lawful office use. Therefore, the parking and traffic issues as alleged in the decision notice only concerns when the property accommodates its maximum capacity of 140 people. 
l.4  A large number of Muslim communities live around the appeal site and work within Worcester Park District Centre. The Case Officer's report (paragraph 5.11) concludes that HA key proposition in support of this application is the applicant's assertion that a significant number of worshippers within a 2 km radius would walk to the site and noting the evidence submitted to demonstrate local demand it is considered that the applicants have sufficiently demonstrated there is a need for a proposed mosque in this location (our emphasis)." It is the appellant's case that the proposed mosque would specifically meet the identified needs for a place of worship for Muslims who presently live and work within Worcester Park. The local Muslims are fully aware that this is a car-free mosque and no parking spaces available. Any disabled people or families who depend on cars would continue to visit the other mosques nearby. 
1.5 Due to the appeal site's location within the Worcester Park District Centre, it enjoys good public transport facilities, particularly bus stops and Worcester Park Railway Station within 220 metres from the appeal site. By having zero parking on site all users would know that the only means of accessing the site would be by sustainable modes of transport, either by foot, bicycle and using public transport. Furthermore, the proposal also includes provision for 16 secured cycle parking spaces which will encourage worshippers travel by bicycle. 
1.6 In addition, it is recognised that there are numerous trips associated with those living within the Worcester Park area travelling to existing local mosques. If the proposed mosque was provided, the distance travelled by existing residents in the Worcester Park area to local mosques would be significantly reduced. This would reduce the number of vehicular car trips, resulting in a net benefit to the local highway network. Furthermore, from analysis of the TRAVL database when comparing the lawful office use at the site with the proposed mosque there would be a reduction in the number of vehicular trips throughout the week, including a Friday. 
1.7 It is the appellant's case that all attendees being within a short walk of the site, they would visit the site either by food, bicycle and using public transport. The proposal would neither affect the available existing parking spaces on surrounding roads nor give rise to conditions prejudicial to highway safety. On the other hand, as mentioned above, the proposal would reduce the vehicular trips and ease the traffic on the local road network. Therefore, the proposal would not conflict with the Policy DN22 of the Site Development Policy DPD (March 2012). 
1.8 With regard to second reason for refusal, the appellant is willing to enter into a S106 agreement or Unilateral Undertaking, should this appeal be allowed. On request, the appellant will prepare and submit the draft UU, in due course.


24 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

bazza said...

Once again Mr Shiraz has put in a blatantly flawed appeal.There is no way Sutton council will accept this.Lets hope this will be the end of this saga.

littlenicky said...

what I dont understand is in the appeal he is stating that the majority of the people that will be using the mosque live within a 2km radius and will therefore be walking or using public transport and yet in the previous application the letters of support for the mosque application were from people who lived much further afield ????

Appeal grounds gone to ground said...

Yes Nicky, I'm sure this is one of many aspects that many of us will be mentioning.
Also that after being refused by Sutton Planning, the applicant pursued his original plan anyway - and had to be served notice by the Council is another reason why he is not to be trusted, or granted this appeal, or given planning permission for anything in the future.

RobDavies said...

Why is this appeal even being considered? It is invalid as it was made too late? We shouldn't have to make any comments. There are rules that we all have to live by if we put in appeals in relation to our own planning issues and this one should be treated no differently. We are waiting to hear back from Richard Green of the council to find out why they are continuing with this and wasting tax payer's money.
Is anyone-else following this up and waiting to hear?

guest said...

The granting of the appeal is by the Planning Inspectorate, it is part of the Department for Communities and Local Government. Sutton Council are being called in to justify their reasons for refusal, if the Inspectorate feel they have overstepped their authority they can overturn the decision and optionally fine the Concillors.


If you feel the appeal was granted incorrectly, you need to write to the Local MP Paul Burstow and ask him to raise it with the appropriate Secretary of State. Ranting about Richard Green who is powerless in this will not help.

RobDavies said...

I wasn't ranting about Richard Green who has actually been very helpful in the past. I do realise that the appeal to the Secretary of State for the environment is the correct procedure but it still has be within the six months time scale and this clearly is not. I was hoping the local council would have made this fact apparent to the inspectorate before sending out letters regarding the appeal, hence I contacted them. Cannot understand how the applicant was not told immediately that his appeal was invalid. I am not a legal expert but seems black and white to me from what is stated on the Government planning website - http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/planning/appeals/guidance/timelimits

Barry Cullum said...

Yes, I noticed this about a week ago, and I've been trying to get a sensible answer too. Many thanks to "Guest" who has explained it, and it is correct, even though I think it verges on the preposterous.

Submit your evidence to... said...

PLEASE BE CLEAR...:







1. Sutton Council have rejected this planning application.

2. The applicant is now the appellant, trying to go over Sutton Council's head.

3. Sutton Council play no part in the appeal process, other than justify their rejection.

3. The appeal is being heard by the (National) Planning Inspectorate.

4. The action upon us is to support Sutton Council's rejection with our own evidence.

5. We submit this evidence to the Planning Inspectorate, not Sutton Council.

6. We quote the reference and use the email address shown in the letter.

7. MOST IMPORTANT . . . . . .ANYONE WITH A REASON TO OBJECT CAN DO SO, EVEN IF THEY DID NOT OBJECT TO THE ORIGINAL APPLICATION, AND EVEN IF THEY DO NOT RESIDE IN WORCESTER PARK OR SUTTON.

8. The deadline for submitting evidence is August 26th.

9. Copy and paste this link to the Planning Inspectorate appeal case, showing the case reference, email address to write to and a full address to write hard copy letters to:



http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2199244&coid=66692

RobDavies said...

Yes know all that but on the portal for the planning inspectorate it states the appeal must be received by them within 6 months from the date of the refusal letter which was 6th dec 2012. So as the appeal was received on 15th July this is well over the cut off date and should mean the applicant has missed the deadline and therefore cannot appeal. Confused as to why this doesn't seem to be have been pointed out to him and the appeal is going ahead? Do they change the planning and appeal laws to suit certain cases?

Deadline August 26th said...

Rob, none of know the answer or what prior contact the appellant has had with the planning inspectorate.
It's certainly a valid point to put to the planning inspectorate, and it's possible that it may stop the appeal in its tracks.

However, it may not. I think it would be a great mistake to rely entirely on that one issue to stop this appeal. [Especially when there are many other, well founded reasons why the appeal should fail]. So it's wise to give the planning inspectorate all those reasons.

vr said...

We've done it twice and let's do it again! We have to object again:
- first of all we need to e-mail this Inspector in Bristol and let him know that all appeal docs should have been published in a public domain, otherwise, the whole appeal idea is unfair to us (objectors) from the beginnig
- more time should be allowed to object / comment as the notices of appeal have been received by us two weeks after the appeal process has started

- we have to explain to him how busy Worcester Park / Green Lane is (this guy from Bristol has never been in WP)
- again, the process takes place during summer holidays when there is less traffic than during school year and - in case of inspector's visit to the area - we would be unable to prove how bad it normally is
- despite the refusal, the owner of the Green Lane building has allowed to use his premises as a mosque


It is in applicant's agent's interest to constantly re-apply and appeal as he earns lots of money for every letter he types. This saga is really annoying to us but we can't give up and have to continue the battle. This applicant doesn't even live in Sutton Council and doesn't pay council tax but we do. One of the points in the appeal procedure says that in case the appeal is accepted and previous decision is overruled, Sutton council will pay the costs of this appeal, which means that we will pay it with council tax money.


Sending an e-mail doesn't cost anything. Let's do it!

pah122 said...

On the link below it states that the appeal was accepted on 15th July not received, so it is possible it was received some time before then and therefore possibly within the 6 month appeal deadline.
Does anyone know, or has anyone asked the Planning Inspectorate, when they received the appeal?

guest said...

I think the correct date is the 14th March, 28 days after the enforcement notice was issued.


But as Deadline says, put every point to the planning inspectorate, they will have received a much bowdelerised version from Mr Aziz.

Get a blooming move on said...

Does it matter? We do know for sure there is an appeal in progress and we have the opportunity to fight it. By all means raise the dates as an issue, but please don't lose sight of the simple and critically important reasons why the appellant's plans will have a catastrophic impact on all of us - and by the way, he has a track record of taking no notice of planning laws and rulings.




And of the original 6-week window, as of today, we now have under 3 weeks left to get the evidence in.

vr said...

Agree! I've done my 4-page letter this morning. Now I'll let them digest ;-)

Any Ideas? said...

Is the Applicant/Appellant allowed to use the premises whilst Applying/Appealing? There is a definite usage of the premises during certain times most days.

guest said...

Yes they can provided it is not for the use over which they are appealing.



Therefore they can use it as office space, they can show builders, architects around, all usage in preparation for the planned use is allowed, but not the planned use.



I think if they get another enforcement notice served it would be game up and possibly legal proceedings from the council.

Any witnesses? said...

I don't suppose anyone's noticed if, by chance, it's used 5 times a day, between sunrise until sunset?

guest said...

I infer that it cannot be used as sleeping accommodation, so nobody other than a security guard should be there over-night.

guest 2 said...

Correct, no one other than security should be there over night sleeping, they can use it as an office overnight. A multinational I contract for has an office in the city which is 24/7 or at least their support group are 24/7. Sleeping at a desk doesn't count. :-)

WP Resident said...

I can confirm I have seen a person entering the priority with bags of shopping, which suggests habitation rather than security.

WP Resident said...

Auto correct! In the post below . I meant property not priority!

guest said...

Unfortunately no. The premises can legally be used as offices, office workers can legally take their shopping in with them.


Now if you have photgraphic evidence of a largish group of people in muslim dress of all ages entering as if for an Eid party, that would be different.

guest said...

I have seen lights on at 2/3am...

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