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Councillors divided over Windsor Muslim Association move

Councillors squabbled this week over a planning application that sought to house a new place of worship for the Windsor Muslim Association (WMA).

A proposal to partly change the use of a property at Ruddles Pool, in Maidenhead Road, into a worship space, was rejected on Wednesday.

Planning officers felt the development was inappropriate on the green-belt and would not be in keeping with the area at the Royal Borough Development Management Panel. 

A similar application was refused last year.

Opposer Richard Endacott said he could not remember an application causing ‘such anxiety’ .

He cited that parking would overspill into nearby roads, and that there are better sites in the town centre for the association to occupy.

George Bathurst, representing the WMA, disagreed with Mr Endacott.

“This is a group of just 30 families living in Dedworth,” he said. “They have been looking for a fixed place to meet for more than a decade.

“Every single site they have brought forward has been rejected for one reason or another, and many [reasons] have been unreasonable.”

He added: “Despite being very simple, this application has taken over a year. It is for a community centre, in a beautiful riverside garden which would be open to the public for the first time to all faiths.

“It is essentially to change a sitting room into a prayer room, that is all it is.”

Councillors had mixed views about the plans, with Cllr Jon Davey (WWRA, Clewer and Dedworth West) raising parking concerns, but Cllr David Cannon (Con, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) in favour of the proposals.

Confused councillors then proceeded to vote on two motions. The first was tabled by Cllr Neil Knowles (OWRA, Old Windsor) to go against officer recommendations and approve the application.

But his motion fell with four voting for it, four against, and one – Cllr Amy Tisi (Lib Dem, Clewer East) – abstaining.

The deciding vote fell to Cllr Phil Haseler (Con, Cox Green), who decided to go against the motion.

This stalemate seemed to visibly frustrate Cllr John Bowden (Con, Eton and Castle), who muttered ‘Jesus Christ’ under his breath and shook his head.

A vote was then made on a second motion from Cllr Bowden to refuse the application.

This vote saw exactly the same outcome – with Cllr Tisi abstaining and Cllr Haseler ultimately deciding to refuse the plans.

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