Councillors vow to help group after community centre plans are refused

The furniture warehouse in Chettisham

The furniture warehouse in Chettisham - Credit: Archant

Councillors have vowed to help the Ely Muslim Association find a new community centre after its plans to use a warehouse in Chettisham were refused.

At a meeting of East Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee, on Wednesday, members voted by majority to refuse the group’s plans to transform a warehouse on the Chettisham Business Park into a community centre.

But members said they were sympathetic to the group’s aims and vowed to set up a working party to help them find suitable accommodation.

The chairman of the association, Shair Choudhury, told councillors the group had been looking for premises for 10 years, without success.

“We have been living in Ely for 30 years, our association has doctors, we have pharmacists, we have take-aways, we have engineers, we serve the community and we deserve something as well,” he said.

“We understand the concerns about the site but we don’t really have an alternative. It is not the best site but all we want is somewhere to sit down and pray.”

The association’s plans to convert the warehouse were turned down following an objection from Cambridgeshire County Council’s highway’s department, which said the site was not suitable for pedestrians.

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Deputy mayor of Ely, Councillor John Yates, said; “This is a very difficult case, We are very sympathetic to the case of the group but the Chettisham site itself is somewhat restricted and there is a serious concern for safety.

“What we would like to do is work with the Muslim community to try and find suitable accommodation.”

Councillor Mike Rouse said: “I would join any group which would help the community seek a resolution to their problems.”