Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ismailis Not Going Ahead With Tavern Development

The Ismaili Community have this week decided not to continue with their proposal to develop the Old Worcester Park Tavern as an Ismaili Community Centre. After careful consideration of all the factors regarding the development and the area, they have chosen to look for an alternative site instead.

They have released the following update which explains their decision in more detail. Some blog readers may receive a copy of this through their letter box as well.

There have been mixed views in the community about this plan. John Clare, who lives quite close to the site and would have been directly affected by any change in the traffic flow started a petition against the proposal. His original intention was to gather at least 500 signatures would would have resulted in the proposal having to be heard by a full planning committee at Kingston Council. He did not have an electronic version of the petition (hence there was no link to it on the blog) and he was only gathering signatures through door-knocking (with help from local Conservatives Cllr David Fraser, Kevin Davis and Mary Clark). He however still managed to gather around 1,700 signatures.

Cllr David Fraser told the blog:
"I am pleased to hear that the Worcester Park Tavern will not be changed to an Islamic centre as this would have caused extra traffic on the Worcester Park High Street and affecting the Malden Road along to the fountain. I believe the decision not to proceed may have resulted from the 1,700 people who signed the petition, and mainly due to the hard work and long hours that John Clare put in on behalf of the majority of residents and with my input along with my colleagues Kevin Davis and Mary Clark. Local residents already experience a heavy volume of traffic without more being added; I consider this a good outcome."
John Clare who started the petition told the blog that it should be noted that he started the petition because of the location and traffic that the proposal would have produced. Now that that proposal is not going ahead, John has said he will shred the petition as it contains the personal data of many people. It has done its job.

I personally felt the Ismailis were a very reasonable about the whole thing. It is worth pointing out again they they are a completely different group to the ones (still) trying to convert the Old Bank Chambers in Green Lane into Mosque. Unlike the Green Lane Group who hid their intentions for years and have not listened to the wishes of the community, the Ismailis were up front from the beginning. They chose to hold a thorough consultation with the community and let everyone know what they wanted to do before they even considered the planning application for the council. Now, having decided to pull out, they have demonstrated to us all that they have indeed listened to the community, and therefore that they had always intended to do so. I wish them well in their endeavour to find more suitable premises.

As I wrote in my initial thoughts after their consultation, the ismailis have a reputation for being moderate, professional, educated and generous. I have seen nothing since then to suggest otherwise. There was some dispute about the specifics of the plans presented to the community, particularly in comments here on the blog. There was much concern about the impact of a development like this on the local infrastructure and many people just wanted to see the site used for something else.

It remains to be seen now what will become of the old building. I still like to idea of the site becoming a hotel. With the X26 bus coming straight from Heathrow and the station opposite (hopefully including Crossrail 2) this would make an excellent site for people to stay in a pleasant area not too close to the city but with unsurpassed transport links directly to the centre. Hotel guests would boost the local economy while adding few cars to the local roads. We shall see...

11 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Lance Concannon said...

Somebody should turn it into a soft-play centre with decent quality food - I guarantee they'd make a small fortune from the local parents.

Abdulla Jan Dharamsey said...

Whatever 'Update' was released by our 'Voluntary Hierarchy,' kindly remember that it was the timely intervention of the Global Ismaili Muslim (GIM) eForum that swayed them to appraise the situation sooner rather than later.
For whatever reason, my 'Breaking News' pre-empting the official announcement was not published, but it matters not anymore!
Spring is in the air and Global (Shi'a) Ismaili Muslims, along with many other Shi'a Muslims around the world, are heralding the start of the New Year today - Friday 21 March 2014 in the Gregorian Calendar or Jomeh 1 Farvardin 1393 in the Persian or Afghani Calendar!
For the record, the first day in the Muslim Calendar (not Arabic) 1st Muharram is NOT celebrated with pomp for various religious reasons! Today is Yawm al Jumu'ah 19 Juma'da al-Awwal 1435 A.H - the fifth month. Ramadan is the ninth month when Muslims are expected to fast and spend time in contemplation!
The Shi'ites are the minority and Sunnis are the majority denomination within Islam - one of three (Prophet) Abrahamic Faiths with Christianity and Judaism being the other two.
May The Almighty, The Most Compassionate; The Most Merciful grant us with continuing good health and fulfil all our good wishes. Amen
PS: Cllr David Fraser wrongly referred to it as an 'Islamic' Centre (open to ALL Muslims) as opposed to (Shi'a)) 'Ismaili' (Muslim) Centre!
To date, 46 people emailed the GIM eForum for a guided tour of the Ismaili Centre in South Kensington. Please watch out for announcements in the press for 'Open House London' - the capital's greatest architectural showcase that takes place in Mid September every year!

guest D said...

There is already an application to convert the short lived supermarket in Central Road into a Soft Play centre.

I would personally prefer the Hotel proposal, along with Simon, though the site is a bit small for anything but a Pod Hotel. Though it would mean increased traffic, but any business use will mean increased traffic, it would be in the main outside of the busiest period.

guest D said...

Abdulla, thanks for keeping us informed and putting the Ismali viewpoint forward, happy New Year to you.

Cuddington volunteers said...

Now that the Ismailis are not going ahead with their proposals to develop the Worcester Park Tavern I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of all Worcester Parker's who opposed the Ismaili Centre to offer David Fraser and John Clare , two wonderful residents whom i met during the period to oppose, all our heartfelt thanks for their tremendous efforts. Again we thank you both.

Guest said...

Agree with the volunteers. a brilliant effort from John Clare and David Fraser, thanks guys.

Guest said...

From the comments that have appeared on this blog, it is clear that there is not a singular/standard "Ismaili viewpoint", just like there is not a standard or singular "Protestant viewpoint" or "Catholic viewpoint" or local community viewpoint.

It is disappointing (and embarrassing) when those with the time and inclination to relentlessly bombard this community blog with their opinions often reinforce inaccurate stereotypes. This portrays the entire local community negatively and tarnishes all of us.

Judy said...

Old Malden Ward must be proud of their elected councillor Mr David Fraser, who gave everyone hope.

guest said...

Well done to David Fraser and John Clare for their tireless efforts. Also like to mention that the Ismaili community have dealt with this in a very dignified manner(maybe Mr Aziz could take note). It is a shame that some sort of compromise could have been agreed regarding the use of the building. Traffic and congestion will always play a major part with whatever proposal is put forward.The Ismaili people have admitted this which will probably help bring an end the Green Lane proposal as well.

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

Well Done Cllr David Fraser I look forward to working with you on issues that effect the both our boroughs.

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

I would also like to mention the dignified manner the Ismaili community have conducted themselves unlike the Green Lane applicants.

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