Villagers mobilise to halt 'super mosque' project on the edge of Broughton, with backing from MP Ben Wallace

Locals will attempt to block controversial plans for a super mosque on the edge of their village when the project goes before councillors in Preston tomorrow.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 1:35 pm

Broughton Parish Council will spell out 20 reasons why the landmark building should be refused permission on their doorstep, describing it as "wholly inappropriate and directly in conflict with the wishes of the community."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is the local MP, is backing the opposition and is said to agree with the parish council's request for the application to be reviewed by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Nevertheless planning officers at Preston Town Hall have recommended that the mosque project should be approved when it is debated by the planning committee.

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Architects say the building would dominate the skyline.

Broughton Parish Council says it has had to invoke the government "calling in" process because "we are not being listened to by Preston City Council."

A four-page document to be presented to the planning committee will spell out villagers' objections in addition to 438 individual letters of opposition sent in to the council.

In it the parish council says that there is "no need for a mosque" in an area where, it is claimed, in the last Census 99.2 per cent of residents were not Muslim.

"This would not be a community facility serving local people and has no discernible benefit to the existing local community in Broughton.

"As there is no proven need within Broughton for any additional places of worship, building a large and overwhelming structure which cannot be utilised by 99.2 per cent of the community and is directly in conflict with the wishes of the community, risks creating division."

The parish council has objected on traffic concerns - an estimated 10,500 additional car journeys a week "on a small rural lane" - and it also claims it is in conflict with the village's neighbourhood plan.

An estimated 546,000 extra journeys a year would cause air quality problems, in a village which was once one of the most polluted in Lancashire until the opening of the Broughton Bypass.

And on heritage grounds the council adds the mosque would be "completely out of keeping with the historic village and will overshadow the historic Grade II* church, old grammar school and cottage around which the local parish community has revolved for centuries."

"The application has not demonstrated that the public benefits of this proposed development meet the needs of the general public, or even the needs of the small Muslim community in Broughton."

The design of the proposed mosque was the winning entry in an international competition organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

It will accommodate 250 worshippers at a time and will have 150 car parking spaces on a patch of land at the bottom of D'Urton Lane.

It is described as “unique in drawing together Islamic tradition with a modern twist on a Victorian mill design.”

Architects say: “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.”