MEMBERS of Oxford’s Hindu community are calling on local councils to help them build the city’s first temple.

A petition to all of Oxfordshire’s local authorities appealing for help to build a Hindu temple has been set up by the Oxford Hindu Temple and Community Centre Project.

Launched at the start of the week, the petition has 240 signatures at the time of writing and makes three suggestions for how councils could help the county’s Hindus find a suitable place to build a temple.

These include helping to find a plot of land where a temple can be built, selling or leasing an existing building which could be converted, or granting change-of-use permission for a building which could be used.

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The petition explains there is currently no place of communal worship for Hindus in Oxford or a community centre where they can hold other events.

It says: “Over the last 12 years, Oxford Hindu Temple and Community Centre Project, OHTCCP, has contributed to enhancing community cohesion through mainstream partnerships for inclusive and diverse events such as the Oxford Mela and Holi celebrations, Diwali Festival of Lights, participation in the Ashmolean’s One-World Festival, Museum of Oxford’s Mixing Matters Project and the Cowley Road Carnival.

“The lack of fixed premises is severely restricting our ability to expand this work.”

Oxford Mail:

Picture: Ric Mellis.

A statement from OHTCCP said the group had been 'consistently outbid' on the commercial property market.

In the last two years, the group has made a bid on two churches for sale but has been outbid on both occasions.

It has also been exploring possibilities of having a space on industrial sites but with no luck.

Chairman and one of the founders of OHTCCP, Dr Gian Gopal said: "The district, city and county councils are owners of thousands of properties.

"We are asking for just one of these to be sold or leased to us for the temple.

"We know there is a housing shortage in Oxford but we dare to suggest that a single property to serve the overlooked Hindu community would not significantly impact the councils’ housing drive."

In the comments below the petition, Swetha Sundaram said: “I want a place of worship in Oxford so I don’t have to travel to London or Birmingham. It will also help my young daughter understand her faith better.”

Tarun Radia said: “I am a Hindu and want a local place for me to bring my family for faith activity. As a rate payer in Oxfordshire I hope the council can provide suitable premises.”

It has been claimed there are between 5,000 and 10,000 Hindus living in Oxfordshire.

As well as providing a place of worship, the petition said a temple could help young Hindus connect with their roots, and also be used for community events.

When plans to build a Hindu temple were first suggested in 2008, there was talk of Headington as the preferred area.

A small group of Hindus had started meeting in their homes for prayers because there was no place of worship for them in Oxford.

The group then began renting halls as the gathering became bigger over the years.

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At the time a £2 million price tag was attached to the scheme, which would have seen a purpose-build temple constructed at about three-quarters of the size of Oxford’s ice rink.

But there were concerns that there could be extra traffic in Headington because of the temple, with suggestions it should be built outside the Oxford Ring Road instead.

Then in 2015, there were renewed calls to help build the temple.

There were aims to raise £500,000 through families in the local Hindu community, which could be used to pay for a mortgage.

See the temple petition online at