'Super mosque' design revealed for Broughton - with council officers saying it should go ahead
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The winning design from an international competition will go before Preston's planning committee on Thursday February 3 - with a recommendation it should be approved.
The landmark mosque, which will accommodate almost 250 worshippers and have 150 car parking spaces, is earmarked for a plot of land close to the eastbound slip road of the M55 and within 200-metres of the Grade II* Listed Broughton Parish Church.
Despite more than 400 letters of objection, including one from local MP Ben Wallace and another from Broughton Parish Council, planning officers say it should be given the green light subject to an agreement over the management of car parking.
While the building has attracted huge criticism from villagers, the application has also received 625 letters of support.
A report to go before the planning committee next week says the design, which came first in a competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), is "unique in drawing together Islamic tradition with a modern twist on a Victorian mill design."
It goes on: "Not only will the unique and innovative design create an attractive and distinctive building, it will provide a strong identity for Preston and the local communities within it.
"The proposed building would create a strong, bold and iconic structure that can be appreciated from many different aspects at a strategic gateway to the city."
As yet there is still no information about who is behind the mosque project, apart from it being a local charitable trust. The planning application is being fronted by Preston architects and town planners Cassidy and Ashton.
The winning design, by London-based architects Luca Poian Forms, beat off competition from 200 companies representing 40 different countries. Two of the four others on the five-firm shortlist came from New York, one from Lebanon and the other from Cambridge.
The site is an area of vacant grassland which used to be the construction compound for the Broughton Bypass.
In July last year the council deferred the application because of the absence of important design details and the need to address claims that there was insufficient parking management in the proposal.
Since then those matters are said to have been have been addressed to the satisfaction of planning officers and now the application has been recommended for approval by the planning department.
The proposed building will be oval in shape and will comprise a three-storey building to a maximum height of 12 metres, together with a minaret up to 30 metres tall.
On the ground floor it will have a prayer hall with 248 prayer mats. On the first floor will be a multi-purpose hall, an adult Quran classroom and a a mihrab. And on the second floor will be a relaxation room, a meeting room, an Islamic library and a gallery.
The building is expected to dominate the skyline in the north of Preston and be visible from some distance.
Residents objected on numerous grounds including parking, traffic congestion, it's impact on the surroundings, particularly the nearby Parish Church and claims that it does not comply with the Broughton Local Plan.
One asked: "What are the community benefits?" and another wrote: "The actual concept is remarkable, however it would be appropriate in a city centre not a rural area."
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who represents Preston North and Wyre, voiced concerns over traffic, the mosque's impact on the Guild Wheel, its visual impact on the historic parish church and the fact that the site was in open countryside.
However, council officers felt that, all things considered, "the innovative design of the proposed building, material considerations and public benefits in favour of the application tip the balance in favour of approving the application."