Windsor Muslim Association plans for community space dismissed by inspector

James Bagley. Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to partly convert a home into a place of worship and a community centre suffered another blow after an appeal was dismissed over greenbelt fears.

The Windsor Muslim Association (WMA) wanted to partly turn a detached property on Ruddles Pool, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, into a place of worship and community centre.

The plans also proposed to have 11 car parking spaces and 14 storage spaces.

The group, which has 30 families, have been finding a home to hold prayers, events, after-school clubs, and celebrations for over 10 years.

But they had their scheme turned down by divided councillors on the Royal Borough development management panel in October 2020, believing the conversion did not justify harming the greenbelt and the parking and traffic would ‘intensify’ the Maidenhead Road if they grew in numbers.

Arguments were made that the works wouldn’t harm the greenbelt as it would have gone through a change of use rather than the home being demolished.

The WMA decided to go to appeal to overturn the panel’s decision but were hit with another setback after the inspector dismissed their case.

The Inspector, Rachael Pipkin, agreed with the panel the proposal would be harmful to the greenbelt and the conversion would cause ‘moderate’ harm to the area’s character and appearance.

The intensity of the use of the property would ‘significantly harm’ highway safety and the living conditions of nearby residential occupiers through increased noise and disturbance.

She stated: “An approval of the scheme providing a permanent and dedicated place of worship and community facility for the local Muslim community would advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. I find that this carries substantial weight in favour of the proposal.”

Despite this, a community facility in a residential area and harm to the greenbelt prompted the inspector to dismiss WMA’s appeal.

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