Mosque expansion approved

PUBLISHED: 09:56 12 January 2011

The mosque will be expanded to include community facilities

The mosque will be expanded to include community facilities

Daniel Wilson

Muslim leaders have successfully applied to greatly expand a Stevenage mosque.

Members of The Stevenage Muslim Community Centre were granted planning permission by the borough council last night (Tuesday) to add three extensions to the existing building off Vardon Road.

Plans for the new building have aspects of traditional Islamic architecture, including a minaret, a new arched entrance way and geometric decoration. A planning condition prevents the minaret being used for the traditional call to prayer.

The current domed mosque has been a place of prayer for the town’s Muslim community since it opened in 2002. The new buildings, which will cost in the region of £800,000, will be used for non-worship activities.

Centre Secretary Sarfarz Awan said: “The plans are centred on children and womens’ needs that are not entertained in other places. We want to have computer rooms, classrooms, a gym and a couple of small halls for private functions.”

Some of the function rooms will be available to the wider community, he added.

“We have to raise the funds, but we are hoping we should be able to start next year.”

Controversial plans for a second Muslim community centre in the town in the former White Horse pub on Albert Street are uncertain at present.

The proposals, put forward by the Stevenage Bangladeshi community, were rejected by the council last year because of parking issues.

An appeal by the applicants is currently being considered by an independent planning inspector.

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