UPDATE STATEMENT FROM THE ALTRINCHAM & HALE MUSLIM ASSOCIATION (AHMA) REGARDING OUR PROPOSED NEW COMMUNITY CENTRE ON THORLEY LANE

The Altrincham & Hale Muslim Association (AHMA) has an urgent need for a new bespoke community centre to replace our current base at Grove Lane. With up to 500 worshippers at peak times, the existing centre is no longer fit for purpose.

 

Therefore, in September 2016, we announced plans for a much-needed new Community Centre on land off Thorley Lane and a planning application was prepared. Since then, the draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) has been published for consultation. The GMSF makes recommendations for future community, housing and commercial growth and proposes the allocation of development sites across the whole Greater Manchester area, including Trafford.

 

As residents will be aware, it is proposed to amend the Green Belt and a number of sites around Thorley Lane are allocated in the draft GMSF for residential, commercial and community development, including the site of the proposed new AHMA Community Centre.

 

With this in mind, the AHMA has decided to place on hold the planning application for a Community Centre on land off Thorley Lane at this time, until the situation relating to the GMSF has been clarified.

However, the AHMA is committed to delivering the new facilities, which are so desperately needed for the growing local Muslim community. We will monitor the situation with the GMSF closely. We would like to thank the community and stakeholders who see the shared vision of this project and will endeavour to keep the local community updated as and when we are ready to progress with our plan.

 

Welcome

Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association - New Community Centre Proposals

 

This website provides details of the proposed new community centre on Thorley Lane, opposite World of Water.

 

The Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association (or AHMA) was first established (originally as the Altrincham Muslim Association) in 1995. However, it wasn’t until 2003 that the Association found a permanent home in the former St David’s Church on Grove Lane.

 

While that building has served the Association well in the past, it is sadly no longer fit for purpose. The AHMA is conscious of the fact that, as the Altrincham and Hale Muslim population has grown, it has been increasingly difficult to accommodate our congregation at Grove Lane. There is also no doubt that the inadequate facilities at Grove Lane, particularly the lack of any dedicated off-street parking, is causing difficulties for local residents.

 

The Association has previously considered plans to demolish the Church and build a replacement building on the Grove Lane site. However, that has proved not to be a feasible option for a variety of reasons.

 

The Association has for many years searched for suitable new premises to relocate  to a purpose-built facility which can serve all of the community. A planning application for this new community centre will soon be submitted to Trafford Council for their consideration. This planning application will contain a number of detailed specialist reports which will address all aspects of the proposed development, including highways, what the building will look like, impact on the Green Belt and flood risk.

 

The Association is committed to working with the local community in everything that it does. These proposals are no exception.  We hope that you find all of the information that you require on this website, but if you would like to discuss the proposals or if you have any further questions, please do get in contact.

 

 

Contact us

 

0800 907 8678

enquiries@ahmacommunitycentre.co.uk


Altrincham Muslim Association is a registered charity 1101378

 

who are the ahma?

The Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association began with the Altrincham Muslim Association in 1992, and formally established in September 1995. The Islamic Cultural Centre was established in the former St David’s Church on Grove Lane, Hale when the association was small in numbers. As the Association has grown, it has provided a place for people of all ages, nationalities, schools of thought and knowledge.

 

The Association has worked with the Altrincham Interfaith Group, as a founding member and subsequently became a charity in 2004.  The Association is regularly involved in the wider community and regularly opens up their current site for community events and charity fundraising activities. The association is proud of the work it has done to bring together the different communities of Altrincham and in supporting local and regional good causes.

 

The Association is committed to working with the local community, including local schools and hospitals.

 

Urgent need

 

The local Muslim community has seen significant growth in recent years. With up to 500 worshippers at peak times, the AHMA has outgrown their current base at Grove Lane.

 

As a consequence, there is a compelling and urgent need for a bespoke community centre for the local Altrincham and Hale Muslim community. We commissioned property professionals to consider a range of alternative sites and no other better located, suitable available site exists. Thorley Lane, especially in terms of convenience of location, ticks all of the boxes in terms of providing space for a bespoke, quality building.

 

The Thorley Lane site

A purpose-built new community centre is being proposed on Thorley Lane. While this land is in the Green Belt, we believe that we can demonstrate the ‘very special circumstances’ required to allow development to happen here.

 

Our proposal will (at our cost) remediate the site, provide significant landscaping and improve the openness of the land.

 

Previous uses

 

Part of the Thorley Lane site benefits from an existing planning consent and already has a number of established commercial uses, which would be better suited to a brownfield site. The land is unsightly and has been used for general waste, including the storage of old cars. As a consequence, the land has become contaminated.

 

The site is contaminated with Asbestos waste material, spills of fuels/oils and other potentially dangerous liquids. Himalayan balsam is present over much of the site.  Causing, or allowing, a Schedule 9 species to spread into the wild is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).  This species should be eradicated from site.

 

Our proposal is not just about a new building, but also the wider site. We will remediate this land and through careful planting we will increase biodiversity on the site.

 

Why Thorley Lane?

 

A robust site search has been undertaken by professional property consultants. There are no other available and suitable development sites, in an accessible location to serve the Altrincham and Hale Muslim community.

 

What will happen to Grove Lane?

 

Should planning permission be granted for a new community centre, activities at the existing the Grove Lane centre will cease and an appropriate redevelopment will be planned.

 

The proposed community centre

How the building will be used

 

The proposed new multi-purpose community centre on Thorley Lane will be open to all. As well as being a place of worship, the centre will include facilities for the local community such as, a crèche, meeting rooms, parent and baby groups, youth clubs, a café and a Garden of Contemplation.

 

Although we will not apply for any alcohol or music licenses, it is our intention to make rooms available to local community groups and charities to hire. We believe that this would be a real benefit to the area. The new centre will be the region’s base for Mosaic, the Prince’s Trust charity. It will also house Nisa Nashim, the government supported project for promoting inter-faith relations of Muslim and Jewish women.

 

thoughtful

design

 

The building is modern in design, akin to a ‘Pavilion in the Park’. The community centre will be circa 2,000 sq m over two storeys for the main building, with and a connected single storey café building to the rear – separated by the Garden of Contemplation.

 

Considerable thought has been given to the layout of the site. The building will be lowered into the landscape at the most discrete part of the site, to ensure it sits sympathetically in its surroundings. By making use of existing tall trees and significant new planting to create better green open space.

Car

Parking

 

For much of the week, the numbers of visitors to the centre will be relatively low in number. At the front of the centre we will be providing a tarmac car park with 29 spaces, including 9 disabled spaces. To respect the ‘green’ aspect of the site and to improve biodiversity, we are proposing to use ‘grasscrete’ (which allows grass to grow) for the remaining 136 spaces.

 

AHMA community/Outreach

The AHMA is a registered charity (currently as the ‘Altrincham Muslim Association’) which is committed to working with the wider Altrincham and Hale community. Integral to the values and beliefs of the AHMA is the importance of social justice and social cohesion and working in unison for the common good. The Association is a founding member of the Altrincham Interfaith Group and we have historically been an active group within the local community.

 

Through local volunteers and pioneered through the young adults and teenagers, the AHMA has raised money for local and national charities, assisted in providing care for local people in need such as the homeless and encouraged political engagment.

 

community outreach

 

AHMA has recently raised money for many charities some of which include:

 

  • Pictor House School, a local special education needs school, through a family fun day
  • Mayor’s charities - we helped to raise money with the Mayor of Trafford by organising a community event
  • The DEC, Wellington School, Oxfam and TFC through our annual quiz
  • The Brain Tumour Charity
  • Marie Curie
  • St Anne’s Hospice

 

 

 

As an active member of the Altrincham Interfaith Network we have worked hard to help in the mutual understanding between local faith communities. We attend and host regular interactions. AHMA has been at the forefront of uniting faith communities to work together for the common good.

 

The AHMA girls youth group is an example of how our talented young girls have driven the ethos of the AHMA, towards helping others and belief in a plural and just society.

 

Their work includes:

 

  • National Sadaqa Day - a Carers Pampering Day, where carers from around Altrincham were invited to the community centre to celebrate the incredible work that they do in looking after others. As a small thank you, the girls provided tea, cakes , hand massage and facials!
  • Raising money for Marie Curie
  • Friday food sales for The Brain Tumour Charity
  • Feeding the homeless within Manchester
  • A climb of Mount Snowdon to support the fantastic and vital work at St Anne’s Hospice.
  • Raising money to encourage young girls to play sports in the third world.
  • Bringing together young people from all faith communities to develop a ‘mural of peace’
  • Inviting local politicians to help the girls understand and encourage political engagement, as well as holding our politicians to account!

Some key questions answered

Transport – accessing the site

 

We know that the local community will want reassurance that our proposals will give due consideration to issues relating to transport. The site entrance and exit for vehicles and pedestrians will be through a new access on Thorley Lane.

 

Our planning application will include a detailed Highways Assessment and an associated Travel Plan which cover these issues in more detail. We know from the Highways Assessment that the busy ‘peak’ times on Thorley Lane do not coincide with the new centre’s expected peak times. For example, we can say with some certainty that very few people will be wishing to access the new centre during school drop-off and collection times.

 

We will work with the local highways authority as the application progresses.

 

Light and noise impacts

 

While the site has very few nearby properties, the building and site layout have been carefully designed to minimise impacts on our neighbours. Issues relating to light and noise are addressed in full in our planning application.

 

Green Belt development

 

We accept that the site is within the Green Belt. This does not mean that development cannot happen here, but we do need to demonstrate ‘very special circumstances’ in order to get approval. We believe that we have a very strong case for this, and that by removing existing activities our development will actually enhance the quality and openness of this land.

 

FAQS

What are you proposing?

 

Our proposals would use a currently bespoiled and contaminated parcel of land to create a multi-purpose Muslim community centre. The proposal will not only create a place of worship but also where the Muslim community can come together socially and where links to the wider community and faiths in Altrincham and Hale can be fostered.

 

The building will be of a contemporary modern design, akin to a ‘Pavilion in the Park’ surrounded by improved landscaping. Facilities will include rooms for lectures, a crèche, mother and toddler groups, a café and a Garden of Contemplation. The building will be lowered into the landscape at the most discrete part of the site to ensure it sits quietly and sympathetically in its surroundings.

 

Tree planting, a wildflower meadow and community green spaces open up a currently private site into a place for the Altrincham and Hale Muslim and wider community to enjoy.

 

 

How is the site contaminated?

 

The site is contaminated with Asbestos waste material, spills of fuels/oils and other potentially dangerous liquids. Himalayan balsam is present over much of the site.  Causing, or allowing, a Schedule 9 species to spread into the wild is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).  This species should be eradicated from site.

 

The above will be remedied as part of the development.

 

A ground conditions report will accompany the planning application and finds that the site contained commercial buildings and structures from at least 1935. The site has historically been used for commercial activity which has contributed to the contamination identified. This site has had a range of buildings across it and it is some of those buildings that may have had asbestos in their construction.

 

 

Why is there a need for a new Community Centre?

 

The Muslim community in the Altrincham and Hale area has grown substantially over the past 10 years and as such the AHMA has outgrown its current centre. Although planning permission was granted to extend the current building, this would still not provide enough capacity for existing attendee levels. As a result, a new purpose built Community Centre is needed for the organisation.

 

 

Why would you propose to build on the Green Belt?

 

The current site is used by commercial business and has derelict hard standing areas, assorted structures, old cars, containers and other general waste on it. By providing enhanced landscaping, the community centre would increase biodiversity in the area and improve the openness of the green belt.

 

It should be noted that development does happen in the Green Belt. Indeed, this site sits within the same area of Green Belt as relatively recent developments, such as Timperley Sports Club on Stockport Road, Altrincham College of Arts, Hale Country Club, as well as older developments, such as Wyevale World of Water. 

The adjacent land is consented and used for airport parking. This is also within the same Green Belt.

 

 

WHAT ARE THE VERY SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES TO SUPPORT THIS APPLICATION?

 

As it is in the Green Belt, in order for the proposed community centre to gain planning approval, the planning application will need to demonstrate ‘very special circumstances’ as set out in National Planning Policy. We believe there are special circumstances to enable the council to grant planning permission for the development and that the benefits outweigh the potential harm to the green belt. These special circumstances include the need for a new community centre for the Muslim population of Altrincham, the lack of a suitable alternative location and the benefits for Altrincham and the wider community. The proposals will also remove unsightly activities from the area, and remediate the contaminated land. The proposals will also improve the openness of the land.

 

How do you propose to deal with the traffic and car parking?

 

In December 2014, planning permission was granted for the formation of a new vehicular and pedestrian access and gates from Thorley Lane. It is proposed that the development would be accessed via this junction, which has good visibility and as a result, highway safety. There will be sufficient car parking spaces available within the grounds for the congregation. The majority of the car parking would be on grasscrete at the western edge of the site to maintain the ‘green’ openness of the site.

 

A transport assessment will be submitted as part of the planning application and the report shows that there is sufficient capacity in the highways network to accommodate this development.

 

 

When was the traffic survey completed and what are the findings?

 

The traffic survey was undertaken by an independent highways consultant and, contrary to some suggestions on social media, it was not carried out in August or any school holiday period. The findings concluded that the busiest time for the Centre will be in the early afternoon on Fridays, generally between 1pm and 2pm when Thorley Lane is not as busy. The peak traffic times on Thorley Lane on Fridays are between 8am and 9am and between 5pm and 6pm. The next busiest time for the Centre is likely to be Saturday early evenings (between 6.30pm and 9pm). During Ramadan the Centre will be busier than in the rest of the year. However, again, the busiest times will not coincide with peak hours traffic on Thorley Lane.

 

 

What about noise created by the community centre, will there be a call to prayer?

 

This site will be tucked back from Thorley Lane with few immediate neighbouring homes. The main building will be lowered into the landscape and planting would mitigate visual and noise impact.

 

There will not be any call for prayer.

 

 

Are you building a mosque?

 

The community centre will provide space for educational classes, lectures, training, exhibitions, mother and toddler groups, a crèche and a café and a place of worship. The design projects its functions – there will be no dome and no minarets.

 

 

How tall will the buildings be?

 

The building has been carefully designed to make use of the site levels in order to reduce the visual impact of the building. The main building will be two storeys and the Café building single storey.

 

 

Is the site on a flood plain?

 

A full FRA (flood risk assessment) has been commissioned.

 

 

Who owns the site and who is paying for the development?

 

The land is owned by two private individuals and the project will be self funded. The building will be funded by donations from the community. It is not being in anyway funded by the council/ taxpayers.

 

Contact details

Further information is provided on the factsheet available for download by clicking here.

 

If you have any questions or require further information contact us:

© 2016 Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association