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Sikhs find home for temple at last
IT has taken several decades but Oxford’s Sikh community is finally to get a permanent home.
A former plumbers’ building in London Road, Headington, will be converted into a temple by the Sri Guru Singh Sabha group after it won planning permission from Oxford City Council.
Community member Pargan Singh said building a place of worship, known as a Gurdwara, was an important moment for Oxford’s Sikhs.
He said: “We are over the moon. It is something we have been looking forward to for a long, long time.
“We will be starting work pretty quickly and moving in as soon as we can.”
The building, which used to be occupied by heating and plumbing company Sharp and Howse, has been empty for two years.
Donations have flooded in from Sikh communities around the UK to help buy and refurbish the building, which Mr Singh estimates will cost around £400,000.
They plan to divide up the building with partition walls to create a kitchen and other rooms, including one to house their holy book.
Mr Singh said Sri Guru Singh Sabha had been running for about 40 years.
He said: “The Sikh community is very tight-knit and they have been chipping in to help us out.
“I have not worked out the exact costs of refurbishing the building but money will not be an object.”
Oxford’s Sikhs were ordered by the city council in 2010 to stop using a three-bedroom house in Cherwell Drive as a temple because they did not have planning permission.
Neighbours had complained about nose and parking problems.
Mr Singh said: “When I came to Oxford from Slough in 1991 there was nowhere for us to worship.
“I used to go back to Slough and some people went to Swindon and Leamington Spa.
“We have members of our congregation coming from as far as Grove.
“I hope it becomes a focal point for our community which we have been lacking.
“I sincerely hope that this will help our community to grow.”
Since being thrown out of their previous home, the Sikhs have been using St Nicholas School in Marston for their weekly prayer meetings which are attended by up to 40 people.
Plans for the Gurdwara included a 10-space car park at the rear.
Some residents had raised concerns this was not enough for the group and would mean problems with parking in the streets outside.
But city council officers said these concerns did not amount to reasons for refusing permission.
Sheila Munday, 78, who lives in Gurden Place said: “I was worried about parking, particularly if they hold big gatherings. But I am quite happy for the Sikh community to be based here.
“They are very welcome.”