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Mosque must rethink its plan to get bigger
ONE of Oxford’s three mosques has been told to go back to the drawing board with its plans for expansion.
More than 30 neighbours of the Madina Mosque in Stanley Road, Iffley, wrote to Oxford City Council’s planning department opposing the application for an extension.
Currently, the popular mosque has to divide worshippers into two sittings for Friday prayers – the busiest service of the week – to make room for the 700 to 800 people who attend.
Neighbouring residents are concerned that a larger mosque would lead to more noise, traffic, parking, overcrowding and littering.
A planning application was submitted in October to build a single-storey prayer room at the back of the mosque, as well as other alterations.
A decision about the expansion was due last month but the Rev Dick Wolff, who represents St Mary’s ward on the city council, told the Oxford Mail the delays were not just a result of complaints.
He said: “The council has asked the owners of the mosque to look at their plans again to address the concerns and they haven’t yet come back with a revised scheme.
“It will be really useful to get some conversation going between the two parties and bring them together.
“There are people affected by it, so I’m happy to facilitate discussions and we’ll see where it goes.
“Regardless of peoples’ complaints and issues, it was going to be a tricky application anyway for planning reasons. It was always going to be a decision that needs to be really thought through.”
Seven Magdalen Road residents, Simon MacDonald, Lucy Eddowes, Alex Holdcroft, Lindsay Herford, Henry Herford, Ed Duerr, and Tom Stapleton, made a joint statement opposing the plans.
It said: “The proposed rear staircase is an utter nightmare and will mean that the ground-floor flat closest to it will have people using it staring directly into their rooms.”
They added: “It will be so close as to imperil all privacy especially in the summer with open windows. Anyone standing on these will be able to hear all private conversation.”
Twenty letters, some representing multiple people, were sent to the council’s planning department between December 13 and February 9.
The chairman of Iffley Residents’ Association, David Barton, said in his letter: “The consequences of the overuse of this building in a residential area are outlined in a number of responses from residents in Stanley Road.
“Noise, traffic problems, overspill on to the pavements, the need for air-conditioners, keep residents awake at night. This is an inappropriate over-development.
“We respect the need of the Muslim community to have a place of worship. But it should be established within the usual planning constraints that affect a residential area.”
An Imam at the mosque was unavailable for comment.