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Religious group accused of using former pub for prayer without permission

PUBLISHED: 13:30 09 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:03 10 October 2018

Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association's community centre on Dereham Road. Picture: Google

Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association's community centre on Dereham Road. Picture: Google

Google

A religious group has been accused of flouting planning rules by using its Norwich base for prayer without permission.

Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association's building, when it was known as the Queen Charlotte Photo: Nick ButcherNorwich and Norfolk Muslim Association's building, when it was known as the Queen Charlotte Photo: Nick Butcher

In 2011, the Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association (NNMA) was granted permission to convert the former Queen Charlotte pub on Dereham Road into a community centre.

However, a condition of the planning permission was that the building could not be used for a variety of other purposes, including a museum, law court and a place of worship.

The NNMA is looking to change this condition and has applied to Norwich City Council to alter the wording, removing place of worship from the restricted uses.

An application submitted on behalf of the group says: “The condition in its current form is draconian, as everyone has a human right to pray and worship.”

However, a neighbour’s response to the application alleges the building is already used for this purpose. It says: “Is this a retrospective application? The building is already being used as a place of worship.

“Frankly, I have zero faith in the planning process as the conditions of the original application are being flagrantly ignored with zero interest from the council.”

Another response also suggests prayer is already carried out at the site, which was also once known as The Artful Dodger, raising concerns about early morning prayer.

It says: “It is not fair that my children and I have already been woken many times by morning prayer. I’m worried that if you give permission for the building to be a place of worship, then it will attract more people to morning prayer and my children will be woken up more frequently.”

A City Hall spokesman said when the application was originally submitted in 2011 it was not proposed the building be used as a place of worship.

The report which went before committee members deciding the original application said: “It is not proposed to provide special support services from the building and it is not proposed to use the building as a place of worship.”

While the site is registered as a community centre, signs at the building refer to parts of it as a mosque. Its website also includes a prayer schedule.

The NNMA has been approached for comment.

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