Planning permission finally granted for education centre in Chingford

A new education centre will open in Chingford after it was given unanimous planning permission by Waltham Forest Council on Tuesday.

Situated next to and affiliated with the Chingford Islamic Centre, the centre will be for all segments of the community and the building will not be used as a place of worship.

Two previous applications to convert the former bookstore at 90 Chingford Mount Road into an extension of the neighbouring mosque were rejected in the past.

Residents objecting to the proposal raised concerns about how an increase in visitors to the building would put strain on traffic and parking in the area.

Alan Berry and Mary Gilchrist, of the Royston Avenue Neighbourhood Watch, told the committee in a written statement: “These premises in South Chingford were originally used for small retail outlets. This proposed development will create far greater traffic in the local area.

“The council over recent years has allowed far too many fast food shops, the gymnasium and the opening of a bar.

“This application will be the final straw and will create a precedent for many further applications.”

In a report prepared for the planning committee, planning officers estimated the “additional parking demand” caused by the proposed centre at peak times would be only seven extra vehicles.

It is estimated that around three quarters of those using the centre will travel there by foot.

A spokesperson for the centre told the committee: “The Chingford Islamic Centre is an inclusive organisation that is looking to serve education and social welfare needs.”

He added that the centre would ensure all local residents were aware of the facility by putting up notices in shops, newsagents, supermarkets, community boards and local churches.

Lessons held at the centre would include citizenship classes, religious study, language lessons, social events for the elderly and employment training.

It proposes to stay open until 9pm Monday to Saturday and until 7pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. The maximum proposed class size is 55.

The premises owner has never been found to have breached planning law or served an enforcement notice, despite being investigated three times in the past decade.

Councillors also voted to install a “metal frame public artwork” at the Wood Street railway bridge and use £1,900 of Historic Buildings Grant money for a new slate roof on a building in the Lloyd Park Conservation Area.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter