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Barnet Council take down all comments on controversial Hippodrome application

PUBLISHED: 12:07 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:12 18 October 2017

The Golders Green Hippodrome Picture: Harry Taylor

The Golders Green Hippodrome Picture: Harry Taylor

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Barnet Council says it has been forced to take down all comments about plans for an Islamic centre on the site of the Golders Green Hippodrome as they were “inappropriate”.

The Golders Green Hippodrome Picture: Harry TaylorThe Golders Green Hippodrome Picture: Harry Taylor

Concerned residents viewing the application to extend opening hours and change the use of the site from a church to a “place of worship” were confused when 221 objections to the plans, visible on Wednesday, suddenly disappeared from the website.

When contacted by the Ham&High to explain what had happened, a Barnet Council spokesman said: “A number of inappropriate comments were published on the council’s planning portal in relation to this application. Following advice and due to the volume of comments that were posted, a decision was taken to remove all comments made on the planning portal for this application.

“This is because of the resource required to review each comment individually. Further comments will now be removed every 24 hours.”

The application (reference number 17/5846/s73) to change the Golders Green Hippodrome to a “place of worship” provoked an extensive response with almost 400 public comments submitted.

When the Ham&High published an article regarding the Hippodromeon Wednesday, the latest figures showed that there were 221 objections made, with 173 in support.

Current planning permissions for the site state that the Hippodrome is used as a “church”, however the applicants say “as a Muslim community, we need to change the word church to place of worship.”

Golders Green residents have become hugely frustrated since the Hippodrome reopened as a Muslim community centre. Objectors claimed that disruption in the area has increased massively, with parking problems and noise also becoming an issue.

An e-petition on the council’s website encouraging the council to explore the “deleterious impact” of the Islamic centre has attracted over 5,000 signatures.

Ahmed Al-Kazemi, PR manager for the Centre of Islamic Lightening, who bought the former BBC concert hall for £5.2million told us that a recent religious celebration had led to larger crowds visiting the Hippodrome.

But he denied that the centre was to become a mosque.

“We are a community centre. We do have prayers here but we are not a mosque,” Mr Al-Kazemi said.

The Barnet Council spokesman said: “All comments relating to the Hippodrome application are being monitored and logged and will be presented to planning committee.”

Leader of Barnet Council, councillor Richard Cornelius said: “The planning committee will take comments into account when making its decision. The merits of the application will be considered entirely on planning grounds.

“We are extremely proud of our borough’s diversity and the way our communities live together. We will continue to work closely with all of our local communities to ensure Barnet remains an inclusive place for everyone.”

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