Islamic school plan rejected
by Dan Martin, Politics Correspondent
Plans to convert part of a derelict factory into a Islamic school have been rejected.
The Imam Ghazali Learning Academy had wanted to turn part of a former knitwear building in Smith Dorrien Road, North Evington, into a educational building for up to 150 children.
However, the academy's plans failed to be approved by Leicester City Council's planning committee after officials warned the property was at risk of flooding.
Nearby residents had raised concerns about the scheme, fearing it would create intolerable parking problems.
Iqbal Patel, who lives in Smith Dorrien Road, told the committee meeting at the town hall on Wednesday: "Parking is the issue. I have no issues with the applicants' motives but the residents are going to suffer big time."
He said his street already had problems with parking overspill from a nearby temple, church and mosque.
He said: "Some people have tried to open scrap yards inside. The owner is desperate to do something with it." Ward councillor Mian Myat, who sits on the planning committee, said: "This building has been empty for 10 to 12 years. It is an eyesore and something needs to be done with the building."
He said he had received phone calls from residents saying the area had been "flooded by rats and mice" believed to come from the building.
A representative from the academy attended the meeting and told the Leicester Mercury he had hoped to speak to the councillors but had not been called to do so.
He said it was unfair he should not be able to speak.
The fee-paying academy, for children aged three to 16, is based at the Melbourne Centre, in Highfields, and has about 50 pupils but said it needed to expand due to demand for places.
A petition with 45 signatures was collected in support of the scheme, while counter petitions with 38 signatures were also submitted to planners.
The academy's plans show it wanted 10 classrooms.
It said relocation from Melbourne Road to the new site would bring a derelict building back into community use, bringing 13 jobs to the area.
The council did approve a plan for a madrasah in Beaumont Road, Spinney Hills. Planners received 16 objections about the retrospective application to use a cafe and social club for education.
The concerns were there was already a similar school and a mosque in the area and the development would lead to more traffic.
The head of the academy was not available to comment.