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New application for Ipswich Kurdish centre at former Mulberry Tree – this time including a ‘prayer room’

PUBLISHED: 10:07 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:03 31 January 2019

The Mulberry Tree in Ipswich closed two years ago. Picture: ARCHANT

The Mulberry Tree in Ipswich closed two years ago. Picture: ARCHANT

Proposals to convert a former Ipswich pub into a Kurdish community centre have been resubmitted to planners - and this time they include use as a place of worship.

The application, from the Nawracy Cultural Centre, seeks to convert the former Mulberry Tree pub in Woodbridge Road into a centre for the whole community – but especially Kurdish residents of Ipswich and Suffolk.

As well as having rooms used for community and educational activities, there would also be a prayer room in the centre that would be the focus of the Kurdish community’s Friday worship.

The application submitted to Ipswich Borough Council says: “There has been some concern that the property will be used as a Mosque. The property is a community centre with prayer facilities, so members of the Kurdish community will be using this property to pray.

“For that reason the trustees and directors are applying for permission as a community centre and a place of worship.”

The trustees of the centre have already invited members of the local community to an open evening at the former pub which was attended by representatives of the borough and police – along with Ipswich MP Sandy Martin.

The application letter makes it clear that no one involved in the proposals to convert the former Mulberry Tree has any connection with the group that were converting the Rose and Crown in Norwich Road into a Kurdish centre before that work came to a halt in November 2017 because of dangers with the structure of the building.

The applicants said: “We have no connection with the ‘Rose and Crown’ community centre and the directors and trustees have attached a signed declaration confirming this and their intentions.”

That says that the work at the Mulberry Tree will be undertaken by registered and approved contractors.

The application has been formally received by the borough this week – but it is understood that the applicants consulted with planning officers extensively before submitting it.

One of the criticisms from councillors last year was that there was not enough consultation with officers before the application was submitted. It is expected to be discussed by the planning and development committee during the spring.

If it is approved, it would be the second major new religious centre in the area – it is opposite the former Odeon cinema that is currently being converted into a new headquarters for the Hope Church in Ipswich.

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