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Enforcement Notice Quashed and Planning Permission Granted for Mosque

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC

An Enforcement Notice issued by the Council of the London Borough of Brent has been quashed and planning permission granted for development carried out.

The Enforcement Notice alleged that there had been a breach of planning control due to the material change of use of the premises to a mixed use as residential and a community centre / place of worship and the erection of floodlights to the premises and the erection of a flag and signage to the premises. The site in question is used as a Mosque and dwelling.

During the course of the hearing the inspector heard argument on the effect which the alleged planning breach has on the character and appearance of the area; the effect on the living conditions of occupiers in the vicinity of the development site; the effect which proposed parking arrangements would have on highway safety and convenience; and other matters including the impact on adjacent public open space.

Much of the hearing centred around the planning problems arising from previous use of the site for a twelve day period when 300 people had attended a festival for the Islamic New Year. The inspector recognised that this previous use was not relevant to an appeal in which the Appellant was seeking planning permission to use the Mosque for twice daily prayers with a maximum attendance of 30 people.

The inspector found that the use of the site and operational development identified in the Enforcement Notice complied with the development plan. He accepted the Appellant’s submission that there was no material harm to the character and appearance of the area due to the limited number of people using the Mosque and the relatively discreet and screened nature of the floodlights, flagpole and signage.

The inspector agreed with the Appellant that there would be no harm to the living conditions of nearby occupiers given the small number of people using the Mosque, the lack of amplified sound and the fact that the site is located on a road which cannot be described as quiet. The use of floodlights did not result in unacceptable disturbance for local residents.

The Appellant also convinced the inspector that planning permission should not be refused on the basis of other matters including parking arrangements and public open space, given the limited number of people that would be using the Mosque.

The inspector also found that no convincing evidence had been raised to suggest that the site had been used as community centre. He corrected the Enforcement Notice and quashed it before granting planning permission in the Appellant’s favour.

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC acted for the Appellant.

The inspector’s decision letter can be found here.