Parking row over mosque proposals

Plans to more than double the number of prayer spaces at a city mosque have sparked a row among neighbours.

Photo Neil Cross
The mosque on Watling Street Road, Preston
Photo Neil Cross The mosque on Watling Street Road, Preston

Preston Muslim Society wants to vary conditions attached to plans for the mosque in Watling Street Road, to replace teaching rooms with extra prayer halls.

Officers at Preston Council say the changes would increase the capacity of the mosque from 145 prayer spaces to 315, and have recommended the plans for approval, subject to specific conditions.

But neighbours have objected to the plans, raising fears about traffic and highway safety issues, and claiming “residential amenity would be adversely affected”.

A report to be discussed by the council’s planning committee said approval was sought for extra prayer space, in place of teaching rooms on the first and second floors.

It said, rather than operating from the upper rooms in the mosque, the madrassa would be relocated to the community centre directly opposite, which would create extra prayer space. The plans also aim to restrict the use as a mosque only, rather than as a mosque and madrassa.

The report said nine objections had been received, including from the Fulwood Conservation Association and from Coun Bobby Cartwright and Coun Harry Seddon, who represent College ward.

Coun Seddon said the main concern was about traffic and parking. He said: “We believe a lot of that traffic is going to park on Victoria Road and the area south of Watling Street Road, which is already marked as access for residents and visitors only.

“We believe the area on certain days, mainly Fridays, will be swamped with parked cars.”

Alban Cassidy, chartered town planner and environmental consultant at agent Cassidy + Ashton, said: “The proposals are relatively minor.

“With the adjacent community centre now available there is no need for teaching facilities in the new mosque and we are therefore proposing to take this use out.

“In terms of the capacity of the mosque, we are introducing flexibility in order that on key events such as the Eid Festivals there is sufficient space in the mosque to avoid it becoming cramped.

“Most of the time the space will not be needed.

“In many ways this is similar to Christian churches which often have increased attendance at Christmas and Easter but are quieter for the rest of the year.”