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Community centre and mosque plan for hotel site
A LANDMARK hotel in Nelson could be given a fresh lease of life as a Muslim community centre under part of plans for a new mosque in the town.
The former Groves Hotel, off Manchester Road, has been earmarked by the UKIM Madina Masjid, currently based in Forest Street, as a potential new home.
Blueprints for an £850,000 project, which would see the hotel become a community centre and a new mosque constructed in the grounds, have been submitted to Pendle council's planning department.
The Forest Street mosque started life in 1974 as a single shop, which was later expanded with the purchase of two adjacent properties.
But the local community has outgrown the current premises, which is incorrectly orientated with Mecca for prayer and also suffers from limited car parking.
Originally known as the Spring Bank Cottage, the grade-II listed former hotel dates back to the 1880s, when it was built as a gentleman's residence.
Later it became known as the Groves Hotel, and was also home to Hawthorne's nightclub for a time.
But the hotel had closed by the turn of the century and was the site of a major fire in July 2001, which took more than 40 firefighters over four hours to bring under control.
Councillors have previously campaigned for remedial work to be undertaken on the hotel and Pendle council's Nelson area committee threatened to issue a clean-up notice on its owners in 2006.
A spokesman for the project said: "Madina Masjid had been searching for a new site for a number of years and had considered a variety of potential sites.
"Firstly the location and secondly, size were the main determinants in the selection of the Spring Bank Cottage (the former Groves Hotel)."
Supporters are confident that the proposed mosque, in the middle of Whitefield ward, which is said to have the largest Muslim population in Pendle, is in the ideal location.
The spokesman added: "The former Groves Hotel site gives the masjid an opportunity to improve the quality of the built environment by restoring a derelict fire-damaged building."
An Islamic bookshop, library, sports facilities, an IT centre, children's play area form part of the scheme and it is hoped adult education classes, homework sessions and interfaith groups can meet there.
The community centre will be designed to host a variety of functions, weddings, conferences and conventions and will be equipped with a cafe and kitchens.
Start-up business units, in an existing annexe beside the former hotel, are also pencilled in as part of the blueprints.