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Decision today over city mosque's 24-hour access hopes

PUBLISHED: 08:19 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:48 12 September 2019

Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association's community centre on Dereham Road. Picture: Google

Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association's community centre on Dereham Road. Picture: Google

Google

A city mosque will today discover if it will need to search for a new home to fulfil the prayer needs of its worshippers.

Councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.Councillor Mike Stonard. Pic: Archant.

The Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association has applied to the city council for permission to allow its members 24-hour access to its central mosque on Dereham Road.

The request was made as current restrictions on the building's opening hours mean during certain times of the year, early morning prayer time falls outside of the period the mosque can open.

However, planners at City Hall have said that given its location in a residential area, 24-hour access should not be granted.

In a report to Norwich City Council's planning committee, case office Maria Hammond wrote: "The benefits of the centre to the community and the ability to attend all five daily prayers here throughout the year are acknowledged.

"It is, however, located in a residential area where any 24-hour-a-day, non-residential use is unlikely to be appropriate.

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"If the NNMA wish to find a base from which they could operate without time restrictions, officers can provide pre-application advice on alternatives."

The application has been recommended for refusal, however, a call-in from city councillor Mike Stonard has meant the decision now rests with the committee members.

He said: "I felt the recommendation was made on a technicality, which is why I called in the decision.

"Most of those who live closest to the mosque - myself included - know how little noise is made by the people who attend and are quite comfortable with the proposals."

Sirajul Islam, a spokesman for the NNMA said: "It would be quite worrying for us if we are not given permission, so we are hopeful the committee will be sympathetic.

"Only our most dedicated people tend to come to the early morning prayers as it is and we always do our best to keep noise to an absolute minimum.

"Our last application gave us permission to use the building as a place of worship, but if we can not worship at the times we need to, it's a bit of a conflicting message for us."

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