MEMBERS of Chipping Norton’s Islamic community have spoken of their delight after plans to open a small mosque in the town were approved by West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC).
An application to convert a small retail unit in West Street into a place of worship was carried by WODC’s Uplands Area Planning Committee on Monday.
It followed a long campaign by Chipping Norton town councillor Tahirul Hasan and other members of west Oxfordshire’s Islamic community to find a permanent home for their daily prayers.
Mr Hasan was overjoyed at the decision.
“I’m very happy now, very very happy,” he said.
“Everybody is very happy at the decision, I’ve had a lot of phone calls and this is wonderful news.
“It is vital to have a mosque in the area, as there has never been one in the town prior to this, and the third generation of the community need to know their identity.”
He added: “I am very happy that I have been able to provide the next generation a secure place for them to seek more knowledge about their religion.”
Throughout the campaign Mr Hasan, who works as a taxi driver in the town, had been quick to allay residents’ fears about the impact of the mosque in the town centre.
“There won’t be any prayer calling or any disturbance, we’ll just be going inside for prayer five times each day and that’s it,” he said.
“We’ve been meeting in the town hall for seven years and we’ve never had a single complaint made against us,” he added.
Concerns had been raised about the potential loss of a viable retail unit by Chipping Norton town councillors at a meeting a fortnight ago, but WODC planning officers had recommended the plans for approval ahead of Monday’s meeting. The community will now discuss plans for the refurbishment of the building and the commencement of worship when they meet for Friday prayers tomorrow at the town hall.