Ipswich community centre can operate around the clock

The Mulberry Tree, Ipswich

The former Mulberry Tree was converted into a community centre. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

The new Kurdish community centre in the former Mulberry Tree pub on Major's Corner in Ipswich will be able to operate around the clock after an appeal against planning rules forcing it to close during the early hours was upheld.

Planning permission for the conversion of the former pub into a community centre - including a prayer room - was granted by Ipswich Council in early 2019 but with a condition saying it could only be used between 10am and 10pm in a bid to prevent disturbance to people living nearby.

The Nawracy Cultural Centre appealed against this because they said the prayer room would be required at all hours because Muslim prayers are dictated by the times of sunrise and sunset.

During the summer they would need to say prayers very early in the morning before dawn.

The planning inspectorate upheld their appeal because, he said, people attending prayers would have to park in the public car park a few yards away which is open 24 hours a day in any case. 

He did not think there would be large numbers of people meeting for a short prayer session in the middle of the night - but said planning permission should be limited to a year so the council could see if there were any problems and have another look then.

The conversion of the pub into a community centre was controversial - in the first application there was no mention of a prayer room which officially turns it into a place of worship, a mosque, which requires a specific planning permission.

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After discussions with borough council planners the Nawracy Cultural Centre submitted a new planning application which was approved - but with the time restrictions that members of the community group felt would restrict their ability to worship as they hoped.

The appeal was lodged early last year and the decision was reported to this week's meeting of the borough's planning and development committee - which could still have to consider the issue again in a year's time when the 12-month permission comes up for renewal.

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