New bid for early-hours prayer meetings at Ipswich cultural centre

PUBLISHED: 11:30 27 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:13 27 May 2020

The Mulberry Tree closed as a pub in 2017. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The Mulberry Tree closed as a pub in 2017. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

A fresh attempt to relax night-time restrictions at the Kurdish Community Centre near Ipswich town centre – allowing prayer meetings in the small hours of the morning – is to be made next week.

The trustees of the Nawracy Cultural Centre, which was established in the former Mulberry Tree pub at the junction of Crown Street and Woodbridge Road, are asking Ipswich council planners to remove the restriction that would prevent its use between 11pm and 7am.

They made an attempt to lift the restriction last year – but the borough’s planning and development committee rejected the application because of neighbours’ concerns about the noise from the centre in the middle of the night.

Now a new application has been made – and this time planning officers are recommending its approval with strict conditions on the times that people can arrive and leave and restrictions on the amount of noise that is generated.

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The issue will be decided at a meeting of the committee that will be held online next Wednesday morning.

In their application, the trustees of the centre say that the times of prayer for Muslims vary according to the times of sunrise and sunset – and early prayers have to be said well before sunrise.

During August this can be between 3.30 and 4.30am – and in June can be as early as 2.30am. The centre includes a prayer room – an issue when it first applied for planning permission and which forced a fresh application for it to be classified as a place of worship which was granted early last year.

In their application, the trustees said: “The members of the congregation and management team wish to be good neighbours and the managing team will not see any problem in managing visitors at night to reduce any potential impact to the nearest homes.”

When there was an application for the lifting of the time restrictions last year it was rejected because there was no survey showing the impact of the increased noise – and no evidence of a need for the relaxation.

The officers say there is now a survey which shows there would probably be only limited disruption – and there is a need for the relaxation. They are recommending an easing of the restrictions for a trial one-year period until June 2021 when there would need to be a new application.

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