Islamic school, Alif Academy, in Forest Gate granted planning permission

Alif Academy, an independent Islamic school in Forest Gate, has been granted planning permission after attempts by Newham Council to close them down.

A public inquiry was set up by The Planning Inspectorate in February to inspect the council’s enforcement notice on the grounds that the primary school and nursery was not safe or fit to operate as a school.

The enforcement notice was quashed and planning permission granted at Newham Town Hall in East Ham on May 23.

Headteacher Hasib Hikmat estimates it has cost the school �52,000 in legal fees to overturn the decision.

He said: “In a time of austerity, the council think it’s fine to be spending public money, probably tens of thousands of pounds, on legally fighting something that made little sense from the beginning trying to shut down a school that provides extra capacity and jobs for local people which runs with no financial assistance from the council.”

Mr Hikmat said the parents and staff were “chuffed” at the Planning Inpectorate’s decision and plan to have “a very, very big party” to celebrate.

He added: “Newham is in dire need of better schools and it’s opened the door to more investment in the development of industrial sites in Newham and, hopefully, more schools.

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“We do want to build bridges with the council. We are not here to cause trouble, we are here to operate a school and invest in the community.”

A Newham Council spokesman said: “Any school in Newham should be safe and well run. We are therefore pleased that the Planning Inspectorate found that our enforcement action was necessary in order to ensure a higher standard of development and in modifying the use with respect to impact on the local community.

“Much of our evidence was accepted by the Inspectorate. The Alif Academy has three months to submit details to us of how they propose to deal with noise issues, a revised travel plan, and measures to deal with cycle storage, deliveries, disabled parking and accessibility.

“We will be examining those details closely and will continue to monitor the situation.

“The Council’s enforcement action has ensured the unauthorised development is now appropriately regulated to the benefit of both the school and the local community.”

Now Alif Academy has planning permission, they hope to win a Nursery Education Grant to help with their development.