Mosque decision delayed amid concerns about site's 'historic elements'

Run of shops in Westgate Street including Slemani and Shawarma Bistro

Planning permission has been sought retrospectively to use some of this Westgate Street premises as a mosque. - Credit: Google Maps

A decision on the retrospective planning application to operate a mosque over a run of shops has been deferred to a later date.

Ipswich Borough Council's planning committee met to discuss the Westgate Street proposal at its Wednesday meeting. 

Members were unable to grant approval because the application required re-advertising and comments or objections may be submitted until April 18. 

In January, council officers told the Kurdish Islamic Community Centre (KICC) group that they had to apply for planning permission if they wanted to continue using the rooms in Ipswich town centre as a mosque. 

Councillor Carole Jones said she had no objections to the change of use but was disappointed that the application was being made retrospectively. 

She added: "What concerns me is not the change of use but the building. 

"It's clear it's a very old building and what's precious about it is mainly within the first floor and roof space. 

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"I'd like to ask to add a requirement that refers to the protection of historic elements." 

But as the building, which used to be Bretts furniture store, isn't listed, planning officers can only go so far to protect the framing and more historic features. 

Councillor Adam Rae also had no objections but moved to remove the condition regarding the hours of operation, as the mosque wasn't close to any residential dwellings. 

The lack of detail was concerning for councillor Sam Murray, who said she didn't feel comfortable making a decision when so much was missing from the application - specifically the plans for disabled access. 

And councillor Colin Kreidewolf said he had concerns because of the "nature of these developers", after some were involved with an ill-fated project to redevelop the former Rose and Crown pub as a mosque and community centre. 

That conversion work came to a halt in 2017 after builders brought in were found to have removed load-bearing walls. 

A final decision has been delegated to the planning and development operations manager, subject to no material objections being received by April 18.