Stevenage Bangladeshi cultural centre refused by planning committee

PLANS for a new cultural centre to replace a disused pub were refused by a council’s planning and development committee last night (Tuesday).

An application to turn the former White Horse pub in Albert Street, Stevenage, into a Bangladeshi cultural centre was refused with all but one of the Stevenage Borough Council committee voting against the proposal.

The change of use of the premises and the alterations to the site were not cited as reasons for refusing the application, with on-street parking, particularly for a Friday prayer meeting, the primary issue.

Members of the Stevenage Bangladeshi Cultural Centre submitted the plans as they want to move meetings from their current venue at Springfield House to a new premises, in order to expand their activities.

Cllr Simon Speller, who chaired the meeting, said: “There are problems with car parking and parking problems within the vicinity of this application.”

Mr Martin Hovell had three minutes to state his case for why the application should be refused. He said: “I have been asked to represent the local residents around the area.

“With the parking restrictions already in place in the Old Town the surrounding streets are already full and we can’t accept any more cars around there.

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“With the Bangladeshi community growing in the area it’s only going to bring more traffic along.”

Martin Ledger, who spoke on behalf of the Stevenage Bangladeshi Cultural Centre during the committee, spoke with The Comet after the decision was reached.

He said: “It was what we were expecting but there’s a misunderstanding on the parking issue.

The centre’s secretary, Mustafa Kamali, added: “The maximum number of people attending is not as high as 80-100 people - the reality is between 46 and 60 and many of those live close by.

Out of those 60 people at least 30 people are elderly and don’t drive.

“We will be going to a humble place to pray and we won’t cause a problem for anybody.

“We have the right to appeal and we will now have a discussion about that but it is likely we will appeal.”

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