Wanstead sports centre to offer language and yoga classes despite scores of objections

Retrospective plans to partly use a Redbridge sports hall as an educational facility have been approved, despite scores of objections from residents.

The application received full backing from Redbridge Council’s planning committee at a meeting on July 9.

Swaminarayan Sports World, a registered charity, runs Blake Hall sports ground in Wanstead as a members-only sports club.

On top of opening up a language-learning centre for members, the charity also hosts weekly yoga classes and was seeking permission to rent out its community hall and two pitches to residents.

An agent from the charity told the committee it wanted Blake Hall to be a “community thing,” but its neighbours have complained about “disruptive” levels of noise from various events, including religious celebrations.

One resident said she could often hear “fireworks and loud music” from across her 180-foot garden, despite keeping her doors and windows shut.

Forty-seven residents had individually objected to the scheme, and the council was presented with a petition against the plans with around 1,750 signatures.

Around 50 residents – referred to as supporters of the proposals – piled into the public gallery to watch the debate in Ilford Town Hall.

An objector, who had lived in the area for four decades, told the committee she felt residents had been “ignored” and were being forced to put up with “noisy disruptions”.

But her complaints fell on deaf ears, as the committee ultimately deemed them “immaterial”.

A Redbridge legal advisor said they were not relevant as they did not specifically relate to the application to offer yoga and language classes. Any noise produced would likely have a “low impact on nearby residents,” in a report presented to the committee.

The objector had also argued the site was not fulfilling its designated use as a sports field, which was harming the community.

She added: “It should be benefiting us. It was, and could be, for everyone.”

But officials were won over by the applicant’s claims it would be beneficial to the borough, with committee member Jyotsna Islam saying it could encourage community participation.

Fellow committee member Saira Jamil added: “We should be encouraging more sports activities.

“I think they’re only encouraging them, and other boroughs can access it so it’s a win-win situation.”

The applicant had also stressed the venue was well-maintained and safe in a passionate plea to the committee.

He told the committee the London Fire Brigade had complimented them on their risk management during a visit, quipping: “We might be Indians, but we’re definitely not cowboys.”

Committee member Kumud Joshi said she had visited herself and could attest to its organisation, though chairman Shoaib Patel warned that may not be the case under future management.

Swaminarayan Sports World

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Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter

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