Controversial plans for a new mosque in Fulwood have finally been given the green light.

But at a heated planning meeting, some members were accused of being “bigots” and “racists” for opposing the scheme.

Work on the new mosque at the Masjid-E-Salaam site on Watling Street Road in Fulwood will now begin within six months, after a planning saga lasting two years.

The plans would see the demolition of the current building to be replaced by a prayer hall, four classrooms, accommodation and a 45-space car park.

Mosque leaders are celebrating winning the high-profile battle – but members of the planning committee were left locked in a bitter row.

Some members opposed the plans over fears of increased traffic, parking problems and concerns over the “central positioning of the mosque”.

Coun Geoff Driver told a special Preston City Council planning meeting: “I have nothing against a mosque on this site – my view is against the over-development of the site. You would expect a building of that scale to be more centrally positioned on that site.”

Coun Tom Davies seconded his motion to throw the plans out.

He said: “If we allow it to go through, there will be horrendous traffic problems.”

An angry Coun John Browne, who backed the plans, said: “The thing should have gone ahead last time, but a number of us differed and we are in the same situation. It was to differ for political reasons – it’s a misuse of the planning application process. They’re bigots, racists – that’s a terrible thing.”

But Coun Margaret McManus replied: “I’m getting fed up of you speaking for me. I haven’t got a prejudicial bone in my body and I take exception to what he (Coun Browne) is saying.”

Couns Driver and Davies also rejected Coun Browne’s comments.

Others spoke in favour of the mosque, such as Coun Terry Cartwright, who described the new mosque as a “beautiful building”.

And Coun Alan Hackett said: “We want to recognise the patience of a large number of people who have put forward this application.”

Councillors supported their officers’ proposal to approve the plan by 11 votes to four. Coun William Tyson joined Couns Driver, Davies and McManus in opposing the scheme.

Faisal Mansoor, mosque trustee, said: “I am delighted that the planning committee have finally approved the application, which they should have done months ago.

“We would like to thank residents, the conservation group and the Muslim community for their patience.

“It will be a major construction – we are all going to be making extra precautions to keep disturbance to a minimum. It will start within six months.”

Mr Mansoor said he hoped to invite community and church groups along to the opening.

Source: Lancashire Evening Post (English), h/t Islamophobia Watch

Posted By Esther to Islam in Europe at 5/20/2008 06:29:00 AM



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