The Sikh community in Medway (and beyond, for that matter) has been growing for several years. They currently have what is called a Gurudwara (sometimes spelt Gurdwara) which means "doorway to the Guru" and is the Sikh temple. The place is more than that, and is more like a cultural centre, and is at present located in Cossack Street in Rochester. However this is now too small for their needsand has real problems in respect of disabled access as there are stairs in various places and nowhere to install a lift.
Fortunately, an industrial unit has become vacant on the Rochester Airport Industrial Estate. This is one of Telspec's disused buildings, and is situated in Lankaster Parker Road. The Sikhs can use this as is, with no building works required, and have managed to raise the necessary funds for this place. They have recently submitted a planning application for change of use of the property from industrial (Class B2) to a place of worship (Class D1).
Rochester South & Horsted ward Councillors Nick Brice and John Ward have visited the Cossack Street Gurudwara and talked to the people who run it, and have seen the existing problems. They were also made aware of the range of activities and facilities that are already being made available to the wider community, including English and Punjabi language lessons, mathematics teaching, and IT training. These would be considerably enhanced in the new location.
Overall, this is an exciting project and one that your ward Councillors (as we are the councillors for the Laker Road area) strongly support. It was originally expected that a decision on the change-of-use planning application will be made by the Development Control Committee on 21st February 2007, though this has been deferred while the applicants deal with issues raised by Planning Officers.
The planning application was approved at the Development Control Committee, overturning the planning offcisers' recommendation to refuse the proposed change of use.