Plans to turn Hackney pub into Sikh temple opposed

Plans to turn a former pub into a temple for the borough’s 2,000- strong Sikh community are worrying nearby residents.

Hackney Council has already given change of use planning permission use to turn the Ship Aground in Lea Bridge Road, Lower Clapton - once notorious for drugs, noise and disorder - into the Singh Sabha Gurdwara temple.

The Sikh community has had to worship at temples outside the borough for the past 16 years, following the closure of a Finsbury Park temple.

But now the planning application to partially demolish the building and erect rear extensions has been submitted, and residents fear the proposals are in excess of what the site can bear.

They believe will attract more than the upper estimate of 120 visitors at a time.

Along with a prayer hall and library, there will be a wedding hall, classrooms for teaching English and computer skills to immigrants, residence for a priest or caretaker and a gym and a canteen to serve “three meals of the day along with evening tea,” both of which would be open to the public.

Although the transport plan claims most people will come by bus and car, the application mentions parking is available in Hillstowe Street, where residents say parking pressure is already fierce.

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Some are also accusing the owners of deliberately letting the building of “townscape merit” deteriorate to downgrade the building’s heritage value, in order to gain planning permission.

The owners partially demolished the building last year, without the planning permission required since it lies in a conservation area.

Resident Hamilton Hawksworth said: “When they took over the place it was quite habitable, they didn’t need to pull it all apart like they did, the roof was pulled off and they ripped out the back wall and it was open to the elements for six weeks until we asked the council to put a covering on it.

“We are in a conservation area, it was a lovely building and the design they have put forward for the rear is not fitting with the rest of the building.”

But architect Zubair Surty said it was a mistake the building had been partially demolished, and it was “in no one’s interests because of one person’s mistake the entire community should be punished.”

“The extension they are proposing has nothing to do with the state of the building,” he said.

“I can see the eagerness they want to contribute to the area, they want to make it a religious place but at the same time encourage community cohesion and how people can intermingle in different societies, it’s done in good spirit.

“They want to get the youth away from drugs hence they are proposing all these dif programmes like a gym.”