CONTROVERSIAL plans to turn a former pub into an Islamic centre have been revealed.

The applicants behind the proposals for former pub, The Railway, in Darwen said it was needed because of a growing demand.


It comes as an online petition campaigning against the plan has amassed more than 1,800 signatures.

Concerns have been expressed about the centre attracting traffic and its location in the centre of the town.

Darwen currently has one Islamic place of worship but the people behind the application said that due to a rise in the number of people working in the town, a second one was needed.

They said it would be used as an Islamic education centre where people could pray, rather than a mosque, as is stated on Blackburn with Darwen Council’s website.

The applicants, one of whom is Manir Ahmed, said the plans would give the ‘dilapidated’ building a new life.

A spokesman for the group said: “First and foremost this will be used as an Islamic education centre.

“The community has for decades made do with a place of worship which is made up of terrace houses.

“With more people working in the town too this also calls for a second place of worship.

“The building is dilapidated and this will help to bring a new lease of life to an important part of Darwen.

“We are proud of Darwen and its residents and we will work with all concerned parties.

“We urge all residents to speak to us if they have any questions and we will be more than happy to help answer them.

“Whilst there may be concerns from some people concerning traffic, we can assure them that these are misplaced.

“The busiest time of the week will be a short period mid-Friday afternoon when Friday prayers take place. The majority of worshippers will be walking to the centre.”

The online petition was launched by Darwen resident Karen Hawthornthwaite, 45, on Tuesday and will be handed to Darwen MP Jake Berry.

Mrs Hawthornthwaite said: “Nobody I have spoken to wants it in Darwen and that’s a lot of people.

“Darwen has its own community and a mosque or Islamic education centre would not be the answer.

“We feel there would be a divide in the community and that is not how it should be.

“The location of the building is not ideal, directly next to the railway station. There will be no places to park and the area will be congested.

“People may think it’s racist but it is far from it. The location and practicality of it all are completely out of the question.”

Concerns relating to traffic and the central location of the plans have been raised within the petition.

Angela Aspden said in a comment on the petition: “We already have a mosque in the town.

“Railway Road could not cope with the traffic congestion and it is unfair to the people who use the station car park for commuting to work by train.”

Carla Grimshaw, from Darwen, said: “I think housing is more important, flats could be done in this building.”

Back in 2008, during what was believed to be a pre-arranged fight in The Railway, yobs armed themselves with pool cues and glasses leading to several people needing hospital treatment.

The pub closed a short time later and has since become and eyesore site.

Cllr Brian Taylor, town and borough council representative for Sunnyhurst ward, said: “Most of the objections I have seen are not things that would necessarily affect a planning application.

Traffic concerns and other similar issues will be looked at by the planning committee if needed.

“It should be dealt with like any other application.”

Mr Berry said: “I am urgently seeking information from the council about the proposals and urge people to sign the petition to make their views known.”