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Camberley Mosque building debate: Timeline


We look at the significant events surrounding the Camberley Mosque building (formerly St Gregory's RC School) which is at the centre of an escalating planning row in Camberley.

Yorktown Infant School, is designed by notable Victorian architect Charles Buckeridge, who was also responsible for the design of nearby Ascot Priory. The school opens on land donated by neighbouring Staff College.

More buildings are added to the school site.

Another detached wing is added to the site.

St. Gregory's First School opens on the site, as part of a county-wide reorganisation of the education system.

The area that surrounds the school, Royal Military Academy, Staff College and part of the London Road is designated as a conservation area.

St Gregory's school building is given locally listed status by Surrey Heath Borough Council.

St. Gregory's becomes an Infant School.

The school closes when staff and pupils transfer to a purpose built primary school in Tomlinscote Way, Frimley.

The school building is sold to the Berkshire, Hampshire & Surrey Bengali Welfare Association who use it as an Islamic centre.

Surrey Heath Borough Council approves a planning application for the building to be extended.

2009 - July
Two planning applications are received by Surrey Heath Borough Council. One is seeking permission to build on land in a designated conservation area. And the other, to demolish the existing school building and erect a purpose built mosque.

2009 - September
Members of the local Bengali Association show BBC South Today's Joe Campbell how the existing prayer building does not meet the needs of their growing Muslim community.
View the report here

2010 - 25 January
Surrey Heath Borough Councillors vote to approve the plans at a Planning Applications meeting, going against the advice of its own planning officers, who had recommended refusal. Attendees at the meeting believe both planning applications have been granted.

2010 - 26 January
Surrey Heath Borough Council issue a statement apologising for any confusion caused. They say planning permission has not been granted. The application must go before the committee at the next meeting to allow completion of the process.
The meeting is scheduled for 8 February 2010.

2010 - 28 January
Surrey Heath Borough Council announce the application will not be considered at the scheduled Planning Applications Committee on the 8 February. A new date is not given.

2010 - 29 January
Surrey Heath Borough Council issue a statement from the Monitoring Officer. It explains that consideration of the application will be deferred to the next Committee meeting to allow public participation to take place.
Read the full statement here .

The Southern Road Action Group who object to the plans, issue a statement distancing themselves from Facebook group: "Say NO to mosque in Camberley!!!" which is also campaigning against the application.

The SRAG say some of the messages posted on Facebook are "inflammatory and offensive".

"The members of this residents' association and the campaign against the demolition of this locally listed and historically significant building wish to hereby distance ourselves from such comments and publicly declare that they are at odds with our objectives."

2010 - 30 January
A new Facebook community is set up called "Save St Gregs". They are made up of past pupils from the school and they too, distance themselves from the previous Facebook group.

Natalie Curran, creator for the new group states: "This page welcomes anyone who would like to protect the heritage of Camberley and preserve one of the very few historic buildings left in the town."

2010 - 31 January
Matt Willey from Surrey Heath Labour Party issues a statement saying he is asking Jonathan Shaw MP, the Minster for the South East, to intervene and refer the decision to the Government Office for the South East.

2010 - 2 February
Surrey Heath Borough Council confirm that the final planning decision will now be made at a special meeting, set up specifically to deal with both applications.

The vote will now be taken by all 40 Surrey Heath councillors, and not just the 16 members of the planning committee.

No date is scheduled for this extraordinary meeting.

2010 - 11 February

Michael Gove, MP for Surrey Heath and Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families issues a statement saying he is asking the Mosque Committee to withdraw their application.

Michael Gove, MP for Surrey Heath

He does not believe it is in the best interest of community relations if they go ahead with the application.

He says "I've fought in the past to ensure that we do not lose traditional buildings in the centre of Camberley."

"People are right to be distressed about the loss of a locally-listed building in a conservation area."

"I hope the Mosque Committee will respect the widespread feeling that exists about the need to preserve our local built heritage."

2010 - 16 February

The Victorian Society issue a statement " National heritage group fights plans to demolish historic Surrey school building ". In it, the Society criticises plans to demolish the Surrey Islamic Centre.

2010 - 17 February

Surrey Heath Borough Council says the Council meeting today will simply consider the best way to have the planning applications properly considered.

"No decisions will be made on the applications themselves at that Council meeting. A date for a special meeting to consider the applications will be publicised as soon as the details have been finalised."

2010 - 18 February

Surrey Heath Borough Council's Chief Executive says no meeting date has been set, to decide what happens to a Victorian school building in Camberley.

It was expected a date for the decision would be announced after a planning applications meeting on 17 February.

Michael Willis confirmed the final decision meeting of the full council will be held "as soon as possible" and would be before the general election.

2010 - 21 February

The News of the World and the Daily Mail cover the story in their Sunday editions. Read the News of the World article here . Read the Daily Mail article here .

2010 - 22 February

The Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph report the story too. Read the Express article here and their comments feature here . Read the Telegraph feature here .


MoD security fears 'addressed'

Contrary to national newspaper reports regarding alleged security issues surrounding the mosque plans, the Ministry of Defence say "While this remains an issue for the local council, the MOD did voice concern about the security risk from the tallest parts of the building overlooking the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst."

"Plans were revised so that access to the towers would be restricted to essential maintenance work only. This change addressed our concerns."

2010 - 23 February

Nigel Farage

Local UKIP MEP Nigel Farage tells BBC Surrey there is an "absolutely overwhelming number of people in Camberley" who do not want "a giant super mosque."

He says it is a "mystery" that the Conservative lead council planning committee ruled in favour of the mosque plans, going against their own planning departments recommendations.

He is urging the Bangladeshi Association to withdraw their application and to continue in their current place of worship, which he says has been operating effectively for 14 years.

He says people are really worried the mosque being built will fundamentally change the character of the area.

2010 - 24 February

Surrey Heath Borough Council confirm the full council planning meeting to make final decisions on both Camberley mosque planning applications is to take place on Wednesday 10 March 2010 in the Camberley Theatre at 7pm.

2010 - 25 February

Surrey Heath Borough Council confirm the details of the full council planning meeting set for 10 March at The Camberley Theatre .

They are as follows:

"Doors will open from 6pm and seating will be limited to safe capacity of the Auditorium. Tickets will be issued as people enter the theatre on a first-come first-served basis.

This meeting will consider the two applications for 282 London Road only.

Three speakers and one residents' association speaker can speak in objection and the applicant and three speakers can speak in support of the application for the erection of a mosque.

One speaker and one residents' association speaker can speak in objection and the applicant can speak in support of the application for demolition of existing buildings after Conservation Area Consent.

Those people who have sent representations to the council will be notified of the arrangements for public speaking."


English Heritage recommend both applications be refused in their current form. They say the school building "makes a positive contribution to the conservation area, and the proposed replacement does not show the design quality necessary to enhance the area".

2010 - 4 March

The Churches Together group which represents 11 churches in the borough, opposes the mosque plans.

2010 - 10 March

A Communities and Local Government spokesperson issues a statement saying: "We recognise that there have been strong views expressed about this proposal. We will carefully consider the case and decide whether to call it in."


Surrey Heath Borough Councillors vote to refuse the planning applications to build a new mosque in a conservation area in Camberley.
Read our account of the meeting here.

Abdul Wasay Chowdury, project manager for the proposed mosque says they will appeal against the decision.

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