Another Win – Chingford
90-92 Chingford Mount Road, London E4 9AA
We’ll keep doing this if you don’t grant planning permission!
A planning application was submitted for a mosque at No 90 and 92 Chingford Mount Road. No 90 was to go from a “book shop” (you know the routine) to a full mosque, and be extended to No 92. More than doubling its size, to a total of 148 square metres, or 1,600 square feet.
The Applicants said that otherwise they would have to pray in the street.
The proposal was gross over development, and out of context with the residential area – busy roads, terraced streets, continuous double yellows, white zig zags, and residents-only parking. Chingford Islamic Society – wanted the mosque open from sunrise to 11:30pm, 365 days a year, making huge disturbance for neighbours, and unacceptable congestion and noise problems.
This was a reworking of an application that had already been refused, and the Applicants were trying their customary Grind-‘Em-Down act. It didn’t work. In fact they have gone backwards for their pains, earning themselves a refusal that is even more tightly worded than the last one!
What follows is a report from our Man-At-The-Meeting, and how I envy him for delivering the coup de grace.
We arrived at Waltham Forest Town Hall for the Planning Committee meeting at 7pm. Walking down the long drive to the main entrance we saw a large group standing outside the front entrance, the majority of them in traditional muslim garb – long white shirts, white hats and beards.
We just managed to enter the building, at a push. Council security shouted that people should move away from the entrance to allow people in, but the cries must have fallen on deaf ears because no one made any attempt to move. I had to use my brief case to prise access to the front desk, where i gave my name and informed them that I was a speaker. We were told to wait and someone would come to take us to chambers soon.
While we were waiting, the many muslims packed into the reception area were looking at the few of us dressed in suits and taking pictures with their mobiles.
There was a lot of shouting as people tried to explain that not everyone would be able to get into the public gallery. This only increased the jostling by the muslims in the crowd, partly for position. But also, it was obvious, to ensure that as many non muslims as possible were stopped from getting into the public gallery. I only saw 1 non muslim heading towards the stairs to the gallery.
At 7.20pm the five speakers were lead through the crowd to the Council chamber. Just before 7.30 I looked behind me to see a stream of people, mostly muslims, being lead into the chamber itself and sitting or standing behind us. This is contrary to normal procedure, which usually requires that Councillors and speakers should be safe from any feeling of intimidation. It seems some types of intimidation are more acceptable than others!
The meeting finally got underway at 7.40. I was the first to speak.
If the muslims standing behind me intended to intimidate me, they failed. I delivered my prepared address in full, despite the shouting when they realised that I had called Islam a violent religion.
The speeches by the Architect for the application, and by one of the mosques supporters, was meet with huge cheers and loud applause. You can easily imagine.
One of the speeches by the Councillor for the ward pointed out that she had not spoken to one local person in favour of the mosque application. This statement was meet by more Islamic hooting, causing the Chair of the Committee to call for order.
Once order was resumed, the planning officer gave his statement, and made a biased comment about the attitude of some of the objectors. This was surprising because I was the only person who had identified Islam as a problem. All of the other speakers had fallen over themselves to say how Islam wasn’t a problem, and that their concerns were only with parking problems, noise pollution might arise, and God forbid any of them should take a dim view of the that Religion of Permanent Offense.
After conceding, reluctantly it seemed, that there was no reason he could find to pass the application, the Planning Officer advised the Planning Committee to refuse permission.
The vote against the application was unanimous, and met by even loader jeers, hollering, and expletives than before. I saw two of the supporters of the mosque leaving with the accustomed bad loser attitude that we have come to expect at these applications. Shouting, swearing, kicking chairs, and punching doors rather than opening them.
I do hope their unsporting ways didn’t cause them to feel too badly about the refusal!
We realised this might be one of those times when the Religion of Peace gets violent, so we made for the exits, quickly shook hands, and congratulated each other as we made our way out. You feel ten feet tall when you stop a mosque. It’s a life’s good works in one evening.
As we left, the guard on the front desk was still screaming for people to clear the entrance, but to no avail. By now the failure of the application had reached the Islamic crowd at the front of the building, many of whom were trying to force their way in just as others were trying to leave. Some were trying to question us on the way out, asking our names, and why we were opposed to the mosque. We ignored them, and pushed through with raised briefcase.
Once outside, it seemed safest not to hang around. People still tried to question us, but we made our excuses and walking to our cars. Luckily it started raining, and the group of warriors stopped following.
The best moment of the evening came next, when I turned around and saw about twenty muslims standing on the Council steps, shouting and gesticulating at each other, and generally looking displeased.
I have to admit that I enjoyed that.