3:43pm Wednesday 14th May 2008
By Jess Bauldry
A mosque facing closure has been relocated to a former beauty salon.
Worshippers from the Madina Mosque in Horsham faced being out on the street when they were banned from meeting in a three-bedroom house in Brighton Road.
Horsham District Council slapped a nine-month enforcement order on the building, after neighbours complained about noisy prayer meetings. But worshippers are jubilant after relocating to the former salon in Park Terrace East.
The news marks the end of an eight-year battle by the mosque for a permanent venue for prayer meetings in Horsham.
Faqir Mohammad, trustee for the Madina Mosque, said: "There are no other mosques in Horsham. That was part of the problem because we had nowhere else to go.
"We are very happy to be finally settled."
The mosque obtained planning permission to use the building in Brighton Road as a place of worship in 2005.
Planning officials described the building as a "valuable community facility" and granted temporary permission until January last year.
But problems began when the mosque tried to renew its licence. Officers from the council advised a planning committee to refuse it.
They cited rules designed to stop houses being changed to non-residential uses. The council received eight letters of objection listing concerns over parking pressures and noise levels in the house.
The mosque attracts up to 80 worshippers for Friday prayers and ten on other days. Mr Mohammad said: "I think everyone had concerns about the parking at Brighton Road. But I hope we will be at our new premises for some time yet."
The new premises at Church House were used as a salon and a Christian place of worship as the Independent Jireh Baptist Chapel.
An application was considered by Ray Wright, the council's head of development control, after negotiations over car parking, building capacity and sound proofing.
Altogether there were 38 letters of objection and three petitions from residents. In addition, there were 16 letters of support with 163 people prepared to sign a petition supporting the scheme.
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