TAUHEEDUL Trust’s latest bid for a purpose-built Islamic academy in Blackburn is set to be blocked on Thursday.
Planning officials have recommended councillors refuse planning permission to demolish the Edinburgh House YMCA in Clarence Street for the four-storey boys’ secondary school.
The trust has moved the academy temporarily from Bicknell Street, Little Harwood, to the former Blakewater College in Shadsworth from next term. This followed the planned September opening in Shear Brow proving impossible due to the lengthy row.
Proposals to build the country’s first Muslim free school were first put forward in 2011 but the scheme provoked opposition from neighbours.
Despite halving the intake to 300 and proposals to deal with residents’ concerns by building an underground car park and rewarding pupils for walking to school, officers want councillors to turn down the plan.
The development was thrown into chaos in October when a High Court Judge ruled that dropping a multi-games area, since reinstated, for parking broke the council’s own rules.
The revised scheme will be considered by the Blackburn with Darwen planning committee on Thursday. Planning officers say it is ‘substantial overdevelopment of the site’, lacks outdoor space for pupils, would lead to the loss of protected trees, and ‘does not respect the character of appearance’ of the Corporation Park Conservation Area.
Four petitions and 21 letters opposing the scheme have been received, including from the 280-year-old nearby Blackburn Subscription Bowling Club.
Two petitions and 798 letters of support have been received.
Seven recent letters of objection calling for an end to the saga, and four of support are included in a report to be considered by the committee.
Bowling club treasurer Carol Donnelly said: “We are pleased with the recommendation and hope councillors pay attention this time.” Nobody from the Tauheedul Trust was available for comment.