AN APPEAL has been lodged after plans for an Islamic Community Centre in Chesham were turned down.

Proposals to convert a disused office in Cameron Road into a new centre were rejected by Chiltern District Council in November after scores of residents complained at the negative impact increased traffic would have on the area.

It was because of the impact on neighbours - which was deemed "detrimental to public and highway safety and convenience" by the council - that the plans were refused.

But that refusal is now being challenged by the Rawdhah Academy, which made the original application, and the future of the site will now be decided by a Planning Inspectorate.

The Academy, which is currently based in Berkhampstead Road as an educational establishment, wants to move into the vacant office but planning permission needs to be given for a change of use for the building before any conversion takes place.

It would provide Islamic education for people of all religions and English classes to recent migrants to Chesham, and has been described as an 'important' and 'essential' facility by members of the Academy.

In the appeal papers lodged to the Inspectorate, the agent acting for the Academy said: "The re-use of the office block brings about economic benefits to the owner and to the nearby shops and services. This is critically important in light of the harsh economic circumstances currently gripping the country. The council failed to accord any weight to these issues."

Concerns over increased traffic levels were also dismissed after a travel plan was put together to encourage attendees to walk or cycle to the centre.

The appeal papers said: "The proposed use would allow the council to have greater control over the situation through working in partnership with the local community and the development and implementation of a travel plan, thereby ensuring a sustainable form of development without raising highway concerns."

The original application to the council said up to 50 children could attend classes at any one time, and a library at the centre would stay open until 8pm each day.

An appeal decision will be announced at a later date.