Bid to turn former pub into Ipswich community centre withdrawn

The Mulberry Tree Pub closed last year. Picture: ARCHANT

The Mulberry Tree Pub closed last year. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The controversial planning application to turn the former Mulberry Tree pub on Major’s Corner in Ipswich into a community centre has been withdrawn.

The Nawracy Cultural Centre, based in London, made the application to turn the former pub into a centre for the whole community – but especially those with a Kurdish background.

However the application attracted concern – and a great deal of Islamophobic comments online – after a YouTube video emerged of supporters describing the proposed use as a mosque.

That would have required a different planning permission – but officials and councillors at the borough were concerned that the processes needed to convert a pub had not been followed.

At the weekend a spokesman for the Nawracy Cultural Centre contacted us to emphasise that there was no plan to convert it into a mosque – that was a proposal that was discussed at the early stages of planning among members of the group but had been rejected before any application was made.

Officials from the Centre met council officers on Monday when the planning concerns were outlined.

This resulted in the application being formally withdrawn before it could be included on the agenda for next week’s meeting of the borough’s planning and development committee.

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No one from the council was prepared to comment on the withdrawal, but it is understood that officials believe another application could be made at a later date – but they hope the new owners of the pub building will talk to them to have the process explained before making a formal application.

To get a change of use for a former pub building, the applicants have to be able to show there is no demand for its previous use – and that they offer a viable new option for it.

There are separate classes for use of a building as a place of worship or a community centre – although it is possible for a building to be designated as both as in the case of the Hope Church’s application for the former Odeon Cinema on the opposite side of Woodbridge Road that was given planning permission earlier in the year.