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THE FORGE: Tuition centre plans set to be rejected

THE FORGE: Tuition centre plans set to be rejected

Image: LDRS

A proposal to convert a disused Wednesbury pub into an Islamic centre look set to be rejected by planning bosses.

Sandwell Council’s planning committee is set to meet next week where it will discuss the plan to create an independent tuition centre at The Forge, in Franchise Street.

But committee members are being urged to throw the application out because it is based out of a town centre with poor public transport links, impact on traffic and a failure to prove there is demand.

When the pub closed, a plan to create a house of multiple occupancy on the first floor was granted permission in 2017 but that was not implemented.

This proposal, submitted by an applicant listed as ‘Mr Asharaf’, was to convert the ground floor into a tuition centre for children aged between eight and 16.

Classes, in maths, English, IT and Arabic studies, would have been held between 4pm-8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 5pm on weekends, with a maximum of 45 students and four students being in the building at any one time.

Planning agent Design Space 2 Ltd confirmed to planners that the facility would not be a mosque.

They said: “As the majority of students, visitors and staff would reside locally there is no real requirement for parking.

“Notwithstanding this off street parking is available and there are no on-street parking restrictions nearby. Therefore, the proposed use would have no impact on highway safety.

“Furthermore, the proposal makes use of an existing building in a sustainable
location to provide community facilities, which would provide educational services whilst also creating several full and part-time jobs.”

But the application still drew objections with concerns raised around insufficient parking in the area, disturbance to neighbours and the fact other tuition centres were already in close proximity to The Forge.

A report to planning committee said: “The proposal would provide an education facility that falls outside the town centre within a location that is served by poor public transport.

“Whilst such proposals can be supported outside town centres, this
should be based on an identified new catchment.

“The applicant has not demonstrated that there would be a demand for this centre to warrant a further education facility in this area given that other such facilities already exist within the area.

“Furthermore, given the limited public transport options, insufficient evidence has been provided to demonstrate that an increase in car borne journeys would not cause a severe problem to users of the highway in this location or that sufficient parking is provided within the application site.”

Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter

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