A NEW ‘predominantly-Muslim’ prayer room at a cemetery could cause ‘chaos’ due to a lack of parking spaces, a councillor has said.

A planning application for the prayer room, which will be multi-faith but is expected to be predominantly used during Muslim burials, has been submitted at Pleasington Cemetery near unused multi-faith plot sites.

The building will be sited within close proximity to designated Muslim burial ground and its front elevation will face south easterly to allow prayer in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca.

Muslim pre-burial prayers last about five minutes, at which point most people paying their respects leave the cemetery grounds so that the family can lay their loved one to rest.

The plans show the installation of five new parking spaces, taking the total to eight, with the planning application image showing six spaces plus a disabled space and roadside parking for a hearse.

Cllr Russell, for Livesey with Pleasington ward, has said that the plans are welcomed in the cemetery but that, on a rainy day, the lack of parking spaces will cause ‘chaos’.

He said: “This application for a new prayer room is welcomed but there are only six parking spaces being provided which isn’t enough because on a rainy day everyone is going to drive to it so there is going to be chaos around it. If they are going to build one, I would prefer it to be done properly with the proper planning and infrastructure in place for it.”

The planning application reads that ‘several roadside parking bays already exist’ but that it ‘would be favourable to create additional parking bays around the access road where possible’.

The planning application says: “The proposed works have been carefully designed with the intention to maximise areas available for burial grounds and integrate the new building sympathetically against mature cemetery boundaries and landscape.

“With the aid of Blackburn Muslim Burial group, the proposed car parking provisions and one-way system will facilitate funeral services and prayers.”

The Blackburn Muslim Burial group, who manage and deal with all the burial arrangements for faith burials including training volunteers in marshalling and parking, will work with the cemetery, equipped with high visibility jackets and radios to assist with ‘on-site operations during busy periods’.

The new building will accommodate an open plan prayer room with an ablution space and toilets. The application can be viewed on Blackburn with Darwen Council website, number 10/21/1393.