CHIPPING Norton’s Muslim community has put forward new plans to create a small mosque in the town centre.
The proposals, which are being spearheaded by Chipping Norton town councillor Tahirul Hasan, would see the ground floor of a disused shop in West Street converted for use as a prayer room.
The mosque would be used by Muslims from across West Oxfordshire who currently meet on the ground floor of the town hall.
A planning application has been lodged with West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC).
Mr Hasan lodged an unsuccessful application for a mosque in 2007. He said he hopes people in Chipping Norton will now support the Muslim community’s plans. “There have been Muslims in Chipping Norton for about 30 years and I have lived here for 24 years,” he said. “Every day our numbers grow and we’re quite a big community now.
“At the moment our children don’t know what a mosque is and we want them to be able to grow up knowing what a mosque is like.”
The proposals would involve the conversion of the ground floor of the building, which would be let from a private landlord. The first floor of the building would continue to be let separately.
The mosque would be funded entirely by collections made by the Muslim community at prayer meetings.
Mr Hasan, who also runs a charity to help fund education for children in his native Bangladesh, was keen to emphasise the mosque would have a limited impact on residents.
“It’s called a mosque but it’s nothing like the traditional mosques you see,” he said. “The meetings will only be for five or ten minutes at a time. In Chipping Norton there are 6,000 people and they have many churches in the town, so why not have a small mosque?”
One Chipping Norton resident has expressed concern about the timing of the application.
Former town councillor John Grantham said: “This application has been submitted at a time when WODC and Chipping Norton Town Council will be closed for a large part of the consultation period, but objections have to be in by January 12, 2013.
“Notices have not been placed in prominent positions. The people of Chipping Norton have a right to be made aware of this controversial application.”
The site lies within a development of small businesses. Mr Grantham said: “It has always been a business premises and I don’t think the district council’s policies allow business premises to be changed and I don’t see it as a good reason to change this particular one.”
To comment on the application visit www.westoxon.gov.uk