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Mosque plan wins backing
A MOSQUE could open in Chipping Norton after planning officers recommended approval.
West Oxfordshire District Council is due to consider plans to change the former shop in Hitchmans Mews, off West Street, into a mosque next week.
But concerns have been raised about additional noise, parking and a loss of retail space by residents and Chipping Norton Town Council.
Applicant Tahirul Hasan, who is himself a member of the town council, said he was pleased officers had recommended approval.
He declined to comment further until the application had been decided.
The district council’s uplands area planning subcommittee meets at the council’s Woodgreen offices on Monday to discuss the plan.
Chipping Norton’s 30-strong muslim community currently worships in the Town Hall on Fridays.
Mr Hasan said they needed a permanent place of worship and the Town Hall was not sacred enough for prayer due to drinking and dancing in the building.
Chipping Norton Town Council objected to the conversion because of the loss of a shop.
Members also raised concerns about fire safety – due to the building’s single entrance – and the scheme’s impact on the unit’s neighbours.
The district council received 28 letters of objection along with two letters of support for the scheme.
Objectors complained about the loss of retail space, lack of parking and the “unreasonable” noise disturbance the plans would create to residents.
They also said there was already a purpose-built mosque in Banbury and there were buildings better suited for a mosque around the town.
The comments, which appear in agenda documents for the Monday meeting, have been edited by district council planning officers. Officers said: “Some representations have not been included within this report due to their prejudiced nature.”
Writing in favour of the scheme, one resident said they had received leaflets which “seem to be inciting racist feelings amongst residents”.
Another said: “I would be appalled and somewhat ashamed if this tradition [of welcoming faith groups] is now lost due to intolerance.”