A community centre has been given the go-ahead to extend its opening hours permanently.

Havering Council’s planning committee approved a proposal to allow the Collier Row Islamic Centre in Chase Cross Road to open seven days a week.

The premises, run by Iqra Educational & Cultural Centre, is a place of worship and religious instruction for people from the Muslim community, but also offers support to people in need from all faiths.

Built in 1999, the centre was allowed to open only between 6am to 3pm on Sundays, and from 6pm to 9pm on Mondays. The venue’s impact on the use of the surrounding residential area was cited as a reason for the restricted hours.

Planning applications to extend these timings were refused in October 2019 and February 2021. A third application was sent by the centre in July 2021 with a planning officer’s recommendation for approval.

This was again turned down by the council, but an appeal was allowed in April 2022.

An 18-month trial began to "monitor and assess the operation of the use within the restricted hours", a council report said.

This saw the centre allowed to stay open from Monday to Friday between 12pm and 7.30pm, and Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays between 12pm and 5.30pm.

With the expiry of this timeframe, the centre sought the council’s permission to allow these hours permanently.

The proposal was called in by Councillor Ray Best, of Havering-atte-Bower ward, on the grounds that this would cause amenity issues to the neighbours and parking problems.

Read More: Travelodge Romford hotel to remain open despite Rightmove ad

Five objections were received from out of 39 properties who were notified about the application.

Among these were claims the premises was “not suitable” for community use and extension would cause parking issues. A further increase in opening hours was also feared, with a suggestion to offer another temporary period of 18 months.

The planning committee however considered IECC’s information that suggested that the centre adhered to its conditions and complied with other measures.

IECC explained in a council report that there is generally a lack of worship facilities within the borough for the Muslim population. It claimed that no other such places of worship had restricted hours that are also similarly located close to residential settings. 

It further said that there was no evidence to suggest that extension of hours would result in significant increase in noise and traffic.

Steps have been taken by IECC to address parking issues, it added, including educating attendees to "park responsibly".

The venue is "within walking distance" of many local worshippers, IECC also said.

In the absence of Cllr Best at the meeting, the decision reverted back to the planning officers who granted the approval with several conditions in place.

These include making sure the premises is used only for approved purposes, limiting the number of visitors at any time to 35, avoiding amplified music or speech, retaining parking for nine cars on site and only letting people attending the venue to park their vehicles.

A full list of these conditions and other details for the proposal can be found on the council’s website: https://democracy.havering.gov.uk/documents/s71617/Committee%20Report%20-%20P1225.23.pdf