Muslim centre backed

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PLANNERS have given the go-ahead for a derelict pub to be made into an educational centre – despite claims it could segregate the community.

Durham County Council’s area planning committee for central and east Durham approved proposals by Kaiser Choudry to turn the former Melrose Arms pub, in Front Street, Shotton Colliery, into an educational centre to be used primarily by 10 Shotton-based Muslim families.

Consent is granted for an initial 12-month period and approval stipulates that the premises will be used for an educational centre and no other purpose.

The Hartlepool Mail reported last week that applications to turn the pub into a prayer hall had previously been turned down following concern from villagers.

A report to the planning meeting says the centre would run numerous classes but would not include a Mosque element.

But 13 objections were received, as well as a 102-name petition, raising concerns including that the facility would not be open to all members of the whole community.

Shotton Parish Council objected to the planning application due to concerns that it could be altered again to use as a prayer hall, without the need for further planning permission, a fear echoed by local county councillor Robin Todd.

Shotton Partnership had welcomed the regeneration of the building, but raised concerns that the development could segregate the community.