BUILDING work on a major open-to-all Islamic community centre in Blackburn is to begin ‘as soon as possible’.
The Naqshbandiyya Aslamiyya Spiritual Centre will be erected on vacant land at the corner of Pringle Street and Whittendale Crescent, Queen’s Park.
The 1,500 sq ft hall will cost £1 million, to be funded by the centre’s treasury and the community.
Blackburn with Darwen planning committee granted permission for the build which will allow more room for the growing numbers of worshippers at the mosque and attendants from the wider community.
The building will provide a space for quiet reflection, meditation and prayer and is hoped to house non-spiritual services to the borough such as work with young people, young offenders and disability groups.
Riaz Ahmad, centre chairman, said: “This is going to be a centre of spiritual excellence. Whether he is a Muslim or a non-Muslim, he is invited to learn about Islam here. We already have a very successful relationship working with both communities.”
The council received no objections to the project, although it was referred to the planning committee because it is of a ‘sensitive nature’.
Queen’s Park councillor, deputy mayor and Council of Mosques chairman Salim Mulla said: “I’m glad it’s gone through, it’s a centre that serves local Muslims well and we hope it will now include the wider community.”
Concerns about possible vandalism of the exterior led to suggestions of preventative measures such as anti-vandal paint and a protruding roof line.
However, Coun Mulla believes the owner and residents need not worry. He said: “There used to be a problem with vandalism in this particular area, but now this is not the case, crime in the area is down.”
The building will include energy-saving solar panels and parking spaces for 22 cars, including four for disabled motorists and, eight motorbikes, and four bicycles.