'Walk-in mosque' proposed for Blackburn town centre
12:00pm Saturday 17th August 2013 in News
A WALK-IN mosque for town centre workers and shoppers has been proposed for Blackburn.
An empty industrial unit on Tontine Street, near Barbara Castle Way, will be turned into a place of Islamic worship if councilliors approve the planning application on Thursday night.
The plan has been put forward by the Jaame Masjid Central Mosque of Blackburn and Islamic Cultural Centre in Cumberland Street.
They hope that the former premises of Auto-Windscreen Centre can be brought back to life as a satellite religious centre for Muslims working and shopping in the central area.
Four local businesses have objected to the scheme expressing concern about increased traffic, parking and the noise nuisance caused by calls to prayer.
The application, to be considered by Blackburn with Darwen planning committee, says many of the worshippers will arrive on foot.
It stresses the conversion of the building will not increase its size or prominence but enhance the environment in Shear Brow.
The officers’ report before councillors says: “The mosque is to serve the Asian business community working within the locality which currently has nowhere to pray during the working day.
“The existing building is a modern industrial unit with no architectural merit and detracts from the locality.
“The proposals will greatly enhance the visual appearance of the site.
“It is proposed to reclad the existing building in brick, incorporating a central stone or marble arched pedestrian entrance to the front.
“It should be noted that not all users will travel directly by car, indeed those working or living close by will walk.”
A Madressa or education centre operating in the evenings is also proposed.
Objections have come from Abacus Office supplies, AH Merton’s Ltd, Southworth’s dental practice and Independent Telephone Services concerned about traffic, parking and noise from audible calls to prayer.
Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman Salim Mulla, who worships at Cumberland Street, said: “I think this a very sensible idea, ideal for Muslim workers and shoppers in the town centre.
“They will be able to just drop in and pray when they want to. It will cause very little traffic or disturbance.”
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