The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association (hereafter the AMA), have been the custodians of a site in Tilford, Surrey since 1984. The Islamabad Centre provides educational and religious instruction for its members who live on the site.
The existing facilities and accommodation were built as temporary structures during WWII and are no longer fit for purpose. These structures are not only severely out-dated, but also offer close to no energy efficiency and bring the overall state of the site down as a result.
The AMA sought to replace the existing buildings to provide modern, efficient, and fit for purpose accommodation for the families that live on site, and to provide improved landscaping as well as ancillary facilities including a gym, mosque, and sports hall.
The site sits in the Surrey green belt, approximately half a mile north of the town of Tilford, and is bordered by a number of detached residential units and a junior school. The AMA have a very good standing amongst the community and thus the focus of the project was to consult with local stakeholders on a consistent and personal level.
The proposals sought to provide a modernisation of the facilities on the existing building footprints, and at the heart of the proposals was the desire to maintain and improve upon the community value that the site currently provides.
Snapdragon Consulting were appointed at the pre-application stage, in aid of undertaking a comprehensive community engagement programme to ensure that political and local stakeholders were well briefed on the proposals and that the AMA’s relationship with the local community was maintained.
A public exhibition was held on site, giving the project team an opportunity to directly brief the 68 stakeholders that attended, and take onboard the feedback of the community living in close proximity to the site. An extensive programme of stakeholder meetings was run in parallel with the public consultation, all in all resulting in a near unanimous level of support for the proposals.
The programme resulted in a high level of support from the local community and political stakeholders. Waverly Borough Council granted consent to the planning application in April 2015.