Purley Muslim group lodge appeal against Islamic community centre refusal

A Muslim group has reignited the battle for an Islamic community centre in Purley by appealing against the council’s decision to refuse it.

In March the Advertiser reported how the plan was defeated by Tory councillors who said the centre, for 5 Russell Hill Place, would be “detrimental” to residents living above and for motorists who use the car park the site faces onto. However, this week we surveyed residents in the flats above the site, with the result suggesting the majority of them support it.

Purley Islamic Community Centre (PICC) has lodged an appeal which could end with a £10,000 bill. A council ruling is expected within the next 10 weeks.

PICC spokesman Usman Sadiq said: “We are determined to establish a centre within Purley and after careful consideration have decided to appeal the council’s decision. I am certain the centre will benefit the whole community and aims to provide a number of services targeted for local Muslim families but will be available to all.”

Although 226 were against the Islamic centre as opposed to 214 in support, the council’s website also reveals only around half of those 440 respondents were from Purley. The others included people from places such as Thornton Heath and New Addington, with several more from people who don’t even live in Croydon borough and even one response from Hong Kong.

The Advertiser this week canvassed residents living in the flats above the proposed centre. Of people in the 13 flats we spoke to, 10 said they supported it while three were against the plans.

Mike Hill, 62, said: “I think they’re right to appeal. I spent 10 years in Saudi Arabia and so I know what true Muslims are like and they are not a problem at all.”

Fellow resident Paul Barnett, 30, said: “I think the council should turn their attention to filling empty shops. As far as I’m concerned the council has got its priorities wrong. I was all for the plan after going down and meeting them. We have the pub which can be quite noisy from people outside but these people aren’t drunks.”

However, one resident who objected said it would create too much activity, with Purley Youth Centre and the United Reformed Church next door.

Figures released to the Advertiser by the London Ambulance Service show there have been no traffic accidents in Russell Hill Place during the last year.

The town centre site would see the empty Venture photography building in Russell Hill Place converted with room for homework clubs, a senior citizens’ club and keep-fit and cookery classes. The partitioned classrooms would also host Koran lessons and Muslims could pray five times a day, with capacity for around 50 to 70 people.

Croydon Advertiser, 21 May 2012