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Bearwood Road mosque plan rejected on appeal over parking concerns

By George Makin | Smethwick | Property | Published: | Last Updated:

A last ditch attempt to win approval for a controversial mosque in Bearwood has been rejected by the planning inspectorate.

Site of proposed mosque on Bearwood Road, Smethwick, Sandwell. Credit: Google Street View

An appeal by the Gambian Islamic Centre to allow it to covert a former solicitors’ office on Bearwood Road into a place of worship has been thrown out after the independent regulator upheld a decision to deny planning permission.

Ward councillor Bob Piper, welcoming the planning inspector’s decision, said: “I am pleased the planning inspectorate have agreed with our views on this application.

"We have had what I could best describe as ‘questionable’ decisions from the inspectors over the last year so I am relieved they got this one right.”

It was the second attempt by the centre to gain approval for a purpose built mosque on the site after an earlier application was withdrawn in 2018.

In April last year, Sandwell Council’s planning committee refused the application on the grounds the site was unsuitable for a large number of visitors.

Objectors to the plans raised concerns over worshippers parking in nearby streets and traffic congestion on a main route through the area.

Rejecting the appeal, the planning inspector said proposed on site parking would be inadequate for the estimated 100 people who would attend busy Friday night prayers.

He said: “The layout of the car park meant that the only way most vehicles would be able to leave would be to reverse out on to Belmont Road. This would be likely to increase the risk of accidents at the end of services when a large numbers worshippers would be leaving in a short period of time.

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“It is likely, therefore that the majority of those attending services in the premises would seek to park on the street.”

In his concluding remarks the inspectorate had sympathy with the Gambian Islamic community to have their own place of worship.

“However,” he added, “ it is important that such facilities are developed in a way which does not cause, nor exacerbate problems in the surrounding area.”

The Gambian Islamic Centre has been contacted for comment.

The centre had been based at the Tudor Works, in Windmill Lane, Cape Hill, Smethwick, but was ordered to leave in 2015 after it was refused planning approval to remain.

This came after a row over parking problems at the site.

George Makin

By George Makin

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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