Mini-Mosque in Preston semi loses appeal over opening hours

A mini-Mosque, in a semi-detached house in Preston, has lost its appeal against the city council's refusal to extend its opening hours and allow more worshippers to attend prayers.

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 1:13 pm
The Carlton Street prayer centre in a semi-detached house.

A government inspector rejected claims by a Muslim group that the local authority was unfair to insist on 7am-10pm and restrict attendance at the prayer centre in Carlton Drive, Frenchwood to a maximum of eight people.

The Boulevard Community wanted to open from 5.30am to 11.30pm and host up to 20 worshippers.

But inspector Andrew McGlone agreed with the council that the proposed changes would have an adverse effect on residents living nearby due to increased noise and parking issues.

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He did however allow the Boulevard Community full planning permission for the prayer facility, which had previously been given only temporary approval for a trial period of 12 months.

Commenting on the request for extended opening and an increase in worshippers at the former newsagent's shop, Mr McGlone said: "External noise from the use of the facility during the early morning and late evening hours would occur when residents are likely to be sleeping or resting.

"These are sensitive periods when residents would be more aware of noise and disturbance relating to comings and goings to and from the facility.

"During the extended hours now proposed there would be significant potential for voices and conversations to be heard by residents closest to the facility as the entrance and parking area would act as a focal point for users to interact even for short periods of time.

"Anecdotal evidence from interested parties suggests that conversations are already heard, and the appellant’s evidence does little to counter this or demonstrate that it would not be the case for a larger number of users across an extended operating period.

"Current social distancing measures do not change my view about this harmful effect which could disturb residents sleep given that many dwellings have front bedrooms.

"During the existing consented hours, the potential additional number of persons able to use the prayer facility may not, on its own, result in adverse impact on the living conditions of residents from conversations taking place.

"However, it would, in tandem with noise and disturbance from vehicle movements still cause a deliberating effect as the proposed changes would enable the use to operate seven days a week with five daily prayers."

The Boulevard Community had argued that the council had received no complaints about noise in the time the prayer centre had been operating.

"A quiet, localised prayer facility is not considered a particularly noise generating use," said the group's planning consultancy Urban Future.

The consultancy added that county highways had not objected on highway safety grounds and the group claimed a larger place of worship in Bence Road, Preston had been granted opening hours of 5am to midnight.

The Post has attempted to contact the Boulevard Community for comment.