COUNCILLORS have highlighted major extension proposals by one of Blackburn’s largest and oldest Mosques as an example for others as they gave the scheme the green light.
The Jaame Masjid in Cumberland Street, Audley, will now construct a new three storey building, put a third-storey on an existing one, alter its entrance minarets and provide a bridge walkway from the upper car park to the first floor of its improved school for Muslim students.
The praise from Labour councillor Suleman Khonat and Liberal Democrat Paul Browne came after Blackburn with Darwen council planning committee rejected proposals to allow another Mosque in a terraced house in Accrington Road, Audley, to continue because it was sited in an ‘inappropriate’ location.
Started in 1962, the Jaame Masjid had a major extension in 1995 and another in 1998.
It will now improve facilities for the 405 students in its madrasa or religious school which provides evening, weekend and holiday classes for youngsters in Islamic teachings. There will be 16 new classrooms and a new library.
Coun Khonat said: “This is the ideal location for this type of development. This proposal has been done absolutely properly.”
Coun Browne said: “I am all in favour of this project. It has been done completely correctly. It is an example for other people wishing to develop this kind of scheme.”
Masjid vice-chair and borough deputy mayor Salim Mulla said: “We absolutely delighted. We will now be able to provide a proper education for our young people in a proper environment. We have consulted properly and done everything the planning officers asked.”
The application said that the extension would particularly improve the facilities available to female students and provide a thriving hub of activity that is inclusive, safe, and environmentally sensitive.
The committee earlier rejected a retrospective planning application to allow the Ashrafi Study Centre to continue to operate a Mosque above its Madrasa on nearby Accrington Road.
They accepted Blackburn MP Jack Straw ’s view that it was “no longer necessary or appropriate” to use a terraced house as a Mosque.