Aspiring Communities are proposing to redevelop the Ice Pak site on Barkly Road in Beeston to create a multi-faith community centre. On Thursday they made a Pre-application Presentation to the Council’s Plans Panel (South and West).
In their presentation, Aspiring Communities stressed their aim was to bring communities together and challenge stereotypes through joint activities. They talked through their plans which involve converted some of the existing buildings on site to form sports and activity spaces and to build a new frontage including offices. The centre would be set back from road with a landscaped parking area in front.
They plan to carry out the work in phases over three to four years. The centre will cost £3-4 million, which has been raised privately.
Mark Parry, speaking on behalf of Beeston Community Forum said that his group opposed the development. They were concerned about the amount of traffic it would generate, that the car park wasn’t big enough and visitors would park on adjacent streets and that the development was too large for a residential area.
In 90 minutes of debate Councillors raised a range of questions and comments. Much of the debate ranged around the larger events that might be held at the centre including weddings and funerals.
Zeb Ahmed, Director of Aspiring Communities, said that these were not the central purpose of the building and that he was happy to accept planning limitations on these events. He said that the after-school programmes would focus on activities for all sections of the community including sports, educational and vocational classes.
In his comments, Cllr David Congreve (Beeston & Holbeck) described the development as “huge” and said he didn’t like the frontage with narrow windows and a minaret. He was opposed to the rear access to Wooler Drive and wanted to see conditions to stop activities going on after 9:00pm, limits to noise and no activities to go on outside the buildings.
Cllr Javaid Akhtar (Hyde Park & Woodhouse) said that compared to the existing industrial site, the centre would be a great improvement.
Several Councillors asked Aspiring Communities to conduct more consultation with the community and with local faith leaders and to present the results when they seek full planning permission.
The presentation was part of the process of bringing forward an acceptable development and no decisions are taken at this stage. Aspiring Communities will continue to develop their plans and discuss with planning officers, highways and others before submitting a request for full planning permission at a future date. Building work on the site will not commence until planning permission is granted.