Controversial ‘multi-faith centre’ plan for Leeds is revised

The former Ice Pak factory
The former Ice Pak factory
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Scaled-Down plans are being developed for a community centre in Leeds – after the original proposals were shelved amid a flood of objections.

Charity Aspiring Communities applied to Leeds City Council for permission to build a £7million “multi-faith centre” on the former Ice Pak factory site in Beeston.

But the scheme, which included a sports hall, prayer and funeral hall, learning centre and food facilities, was dropped after hundreds of people voiced concerns.

There were widespread fears about heavy traffic congestion and calls for the Barkly Road site to be used for housing instead.

Now Aspiring Communities is working on a new scheme that would be less than half the size of the previous plan, with double the number of car parking spaces. It would still have a sports hall, a prayer room and a multi-faith room, but some elements of the original project – including a catering facility, funeral services and a minaret – have been dropped altogether.

An annual event capable of hosting more than 1,000 people will be held elsewhere.

Naz Maroof, director of Aspiring Communities, said: “We want the community to appreciate that we have listened. Nothing is set in stone and if they would like facilities that we haven’t thought about we would be happy to look at them.”

Leaflets are being delivered to local households outlining the new plans and a drop-in session is due to be held on site from 2pm to 7pm on September 17.

A formal meeting will be held at 7.30pm the following day at Beeston Parish Centre on Town Street.

Robert Winfield, of Beeston Community Forum, said it was too early to say if the revised plans would allay people’s concerns.

He added: “We need to be mindful of the very narrow streets which are clearly ill-equipped to deal with infrastructure of the size Aspiring Communities were advocating. It remains to be seen whether they have scaled down the plans sufficiently.”

Mr Winfield said the forum would prefer housing on the site but added: “Planning regulations being what they are, we can’t force the owner to build housing there.”

The revised planning application is likely to be submitted within the next few weeks.

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