The wheels of planning justice turn slowly, particularly here in Worcester Park. As many readers are aware the Mosque planning appeal for Green Lane resumes this Wednesday (19th November) for what may be the penultimate chapter of this one volume of the current series. Or if the pattern of past experience is to be repeated, one more chapter.
This is of course the applicant's appeal against the Council's decisions (both of them) not to allow the building at 2-4 Green Lane to become a Place of Worship due to the extreme traffic and parking problems that regularly blight the lives of those living anywhere near by.
Readers will undoubtedly recall the collective sense of relief when both the first and second applications were rejected. And then the sense of disappointment when after nearly 8000 signatures and hundreds of individual letters were received by the council begging them to turn down the application, that the applicant didn't consider the feelings of the local community for one moment but instead decided to turn it into a game of 'try to beat the system' using whatever legal means necessary.
This attitude did rather set them apart from the Ismaili Community who wished to turn the old Worcester Park Tavern into an Ismaili Community Centre but chose not to proceed when after extensive local consultation at their own cost, they found the community was not in favour of the development.
There is also clear evidence of the building currently being used for residential purposes. These two photographs (click to enlarge) were taken one evening in August. The 'bathroom window' clearly visible here is usually boarded up but was on view again one afternoon only a few weeks ago. People have told me stories of vans delivering beds and other residential furniture and I have myself seen people entering and leaving wearing a backpack.
Now it could be argued that this is the 'live in security' and as the place does have permission for office use, it could be argued that this is all it is being used for. However the picture built up over time, collaborated by others suggests to me that there are serious grounds for a council investigation into the matter.
I have been corrected on a point here. I had asked why this is not being investigated. However Cllr Hookway has written to me to say he
"Personally ordered planning inspecting enforcement officers to investigate these claims after being tipped off by the police several months ago. Disappointingly they found no evidence on site to substantiate this."I hadn't been aware of this and do find myself wondering how the investigation was carried out. Apologies to councillors concerned.
However I digress. The appeal resumes on Wednesday at the usual address: Sutton Salvation Army, 45 Benhill Avenue, Sutton SM1 4DD, starting at 9:30 am on both Wednesday and Thursday. If you are free, please go along to help ensure the Government Inspectorate sees that the people of Worcester Park do care about their community and do not want Central Road and Green Lane in particular even more congested.
For more details, please see the notice below...