Calls were made today for developers to scale down plans for an imposing mosque in Preston.
It has emerged that the Meenawala Charitable Foundation wants planning permission for this domed building on a one-acre site on the corner of Sharoe Green Lane and Kingsfold Avenue in Fulwood, with space for 600 prayer mats.
Towering up to 44 metres high, it would be less than half a mile away from a planned new mosque in Watling Street Road.
It would also include a 14-metre high dome over the main prayer hall and a 21-metre high minaret tower.
Coun Bobby Cartwright, who represents the College ward, said people had been “absolutely stunned” by the proposed size of the building, which includes 100 parking spaces.
She said: “I think it’s just the sheer size of it. I think if it was scaled down...
“The biggest concern for everyone is the traffic. The area can’t sustain another bicycle, let alone hundreds of more cars coming.
“Right at the beginning, we were all under the impression it was going to be a small one just to accommodate people in the area, so we were absolutely stunned when we saw the size of it.
“I’m planning to speak to the developer to see if they’ll have a meeting, have a big display and let the residents see what’s planned. I’m hoping they’ll scale it down and sort out the traffic.”
People living close to the site have received letters from the council this week, informing them of the plans.
BAE Systems worker Danny Whiles , 28, who moved into a three-bedroomed house in Kingsfold Avenue in March, said he planned to object. He said: “It’s just going to be a nightmare. There’ll be cars coming and going off our estate and there’s the noise. There might not be enough parking and they’ll be parking right outside our house.
“At the moment it’s a quiet residential area but, if that goes up, it won’t be. If it was already built, I wouldn’t have bought the house.
“There’s one 300 yards away so why do they want to build another?”
The building would be two-storeys high with a prayer hall on the ground floor and a first floor prayer balcony hall for ladies.
It would be used mainly for prayers lasting five to 10 minutes, five times a day and attracting around 20 people but more worshippers on a Friday afternoon. It may also be used for Islamic education for children. ‘Traffic wardens’ would be used at busy times and there will be no music or weddings.
Coun Cartwright said the plans were less contentious than those put forward for a replacement mosque on nearby Watling Street Road. Plans for the Masjid-e-Salaam building have been redrawn following objections.
She said: “It’s a completely different ball game to the one on Watling Street Road. Certainly, it’s been welcomed with a completely different view to the other mosque. It’s completely different with it not being in a conservation area.”
The developer has already held two meetings with council planning officers to thrash out what would be acceptable on the site of the former maternity hospital.
And in a statement supporting their proposals, the applicants said “there is a clear need” for the facility which they describe as having a “dominant effect”.
The statement said: “We have kept the scale of the mosque’s various elements to an appropriate proportion and scale to give a dominant effect. This dominant effect is normal for religious and community buildings throughout the world. “However, the dominate effect in this case has been kept to a very modest scale.”
The site is part of a much larger development of 128 homes and three commercial units by Kingsfold Development Limited. The homes have been completed but the units have been replaced with the mosque plan.
Architect Al Samarraie, from Archi-Structure, based in Shipley, West Yorkshire, said: “The scale is no different to the previous approval (for the commercial units).
“This is a civic building - you don’t make civic buildings small, they have to be tall buildings.
“It’s a free country so if people want to object then by all means, as long as it’s on planning grounds and no other grounds. I’ve done over 70 mosques and 99% of the concerns aren’t on planning grounds but local authorities are fairly aware of these things. We will respect everybody and work with everybody.”
Preston Council’s planning committee will decide on September 6 whether the plans can go ahead.