Community hall plan divides town’s Sikhs

THE Sikh community of Leamington remains split over plans to develop land behind the Gurdwara Sahib in Tachbrook Park Drive.

The Sikh Community Cultural and Sports Centre has applied to Warwick District Council to convert a hall at the site that is largely unused into a cultural and sports centre.

But many on the Gurdwara’s congregation are against the plans.

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During the past few weeks, the council has received 58 objections, most of which are from signatories of a document that points out that the building, part of which houses a meeting place for Asian elders and a community hall, has no planning consent.

Concerns were also raised that the development would increase pressure on car parking, the fact that there is asbestos in the building and claims that there has been no consultation with the temple’s congregation.

One member of the congregation, Sukhwinder Singh Sanghera said: “We are a religious charity and must act as such. The management committee is openly inviting illegal use of the hall as it has no planning consent and no building regulations approval and yet children are playing football in it.

“That behaviour is simply not acceptable and must be stopped.”

Another, Parminder Birdi pointed out that a ‘feasibility survey’ carried out in 2008 recommended that it would be more economical to demolish the buildings and begin a new project.

He said: “We all agree that the site must be developed for community use. We have a fantastic Gurdwara and we owe it to both Sikhs and wider community to ensure that we come up with plans that will add to the existing architectural heritage, as well as provide fit for purpose facilities and car parking that will meet current and future needs.”

Satnam Bains, chairman of the cultural and sports centre committee, said: “The refurbished buildings will provide much-needed community facilities.

“We shall be running services that will seek to help the unemployed, introduce and enhance basic IT skills, offer cultural classes and allow for sports and social and welfare advice.”

Mr Bains also said that the congregation was consulted at a meeting in June and a resolution to refurbish the buildings was passed.

To view the proposals, visit www.warwickdc.gov.uk/wdc/planning and search for the application number ‘1110’