Plan for Islamic faith primary in Crawley sparks concerns

An application to build an Islamic faith primary school in Crawley has been recommended for refusal by planning officers.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 4:14 pm

The plans to build a school for 180 children on a patch of land next to Broadfield Mosque, in Broadwood Rise, will be considered by the borough council’s planning committee on Tuesday (July 20).

A report to the committee said the application, submitted by Jamiat-Ul-Muslemeen Quwat-Ul-Islam Masjed, had attracted a ‘significant number’ of responses from residents – although anonymous ones had not been counted.

Among the concerns raised, was that the site was too small for a school and that it would lead to parking problems and an increase in noise and antisocial behaviour.

Others felt a faith school would ‘increase tension in the area’, that such schools caused segregation and they would adversely impact the other six schools in the area.

The council received dozens of letters supporting the school.

Some felt it would be good for Muslim children and the wider community and would stop youngsters having to be sent out of town to receive a religious education.

Others said the school would ‘make Crawley a more appealing place to live’ and it was ‘only fair’ for the town to have an Islamic faith school as other faiths were already represented.

A letter from the mosque’s Imam residence said: “We have a huge waiting list for children who want to study the religion and learn Arabic.

“I fail to understand why we should not receive support from our Crawley residents.

“We have plenty of Christian-based and Catholic-based schools, yet not a single Muslim school in the whole of West Sussex.

“How then can one school be any harm?

“We are looking towards the welfare of children and education.”

One objection came from The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT), which runs five primary schools and one secondary academy in the town.

The statement said: “Additional primary school places are not needed and building a new school on the proposed site will have a negative impact on the ongoing viability of the existing schools.”

Pointing out that the town’s faith schools accepted pupils from other denominations, the statement added: “We believe that the current school system in Crawley ensures that all pupils are thoroughly integrated, leading to a harmonious society in which families of different cultures mix, respect and understand each other.”

A report to the committee said the proposal to build a new school was not supported at this stage by either West Sussex County Council, in its role as the education authority, or by the Department of Education.

To view the application in full, log on to planningregister.crawley.gov.uk and search for CR/2018/0064/FUL.