PLANS TO create a mosque in Ellesmere Port have been given the go ahead.
A number of residents opposed to the proposals attended a council planning meeting on Tuesday and spoke of their concerns after the decision was made.
Plans for the Islamic Cultural Centre on King Street were approved by Cheshire West and Chester Council's planning committee.
One woman, Angela Davies, stormed out of the meeting, only to stomp back in to demand an investigation into the decision. She was told to leave the room.
Outside she fumed: “I won't be able to sit in my garden with all the noise and car doors banging from people coming and going. I'm not racialist or prejudiced; I'm going to investigate.”
More than 100 people had signed a petition against the mosque plans, which would see a cultural centre and place of worship built in the 19th century former church building.
A report to the council states the mosque could attract up to 60 people at peak times, and neighbours fear it will cause parking chaos, noise, anti-social behaviour and general disruption.
However, the area's councillor, Pat Merrick, urged people to embrace the new cultural centre and said she had been convinced there would be no issues with noise or traffic.
Neither the highways nor environmental protection departments raised any concerns with the application.
“I can only see that this will be an asset to the community and would enable...a greater understanding of our neighbours,” said Cllr Merrick. “But it depends on the community around it being welcoming. Without that it would be a very awkward position for the people using the Islamic community centre.”
Applicant Abdul Jilani addressed councillors and residents to allay any fears, saying three quarters of the people using the centre live locally and therefore would not be arriving by car.
He also vowed to monitor noise levels closely around prayer times, and assured neighbours that worshippers would not congregate in the street.
“We want to build a good relationship with the community,” he said. “We want to enhance the area and we would work very hard. Any concerns that come to us we would try to resolve as soon as possible.”
Cllr Jill Holbrook added: “There's a culture of understanding to be fostered there. It's something we could all do with a little bit more of.”
The plans for the building include adding front and rear extensions as well as raising the height of the roof. The premises was last used as an unemployment and resource centre.
See full story in the Chester Leader