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Preston’s new mosque is said to be open to the whole community, amid warning against ‘them and us’ attitude

The planned place of worship would also be “progressive” and open to women to pray within its walls – although many are unlikely to take advantage of the opportunity.

Details of the operation of the Brick Veil Mosque were presented during the fourth day of the inquest on Friday, which will help determine whether the facility is ultimately permitted to be built on land along the Broughton roundabout.

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The Brick Veil Mosque would be open for community use, an investigation has found (Image: RIBA)

Alban Cassidy, director of Preston-based architecture and planning firm Cassidy + Ashton, which is seeking permission for the project, disputed the suggestion that the historic mosque “would only benefit the Muslim community”.

He added: “Most of the time it will be accessible to others. As you’d expect, you’d be showing respect for the traditions within the building – suddenly it won’t be available to have the 18th [birthday] parties, shall we say, lively fashion – but it’s going to be there for scout groups… health classes [and] as a meeting place.

“The only restriction would be during Jummah prayer sessions on Fridays…between 12pm and 3pm. But other than that it is a facility that will be available to the community and there will be…a booking system and you can approach and make arrangements,” Cassidy explained.

However, the solicitor representing Broughton Parish Council – who opposed the mosque in its proposed location – said there was no evidence that local organizations outside the Muslim community were calling for such facilities .

What the famous Brick Veil Mosque would look like if it were built on Broughton Roundabout (Image: RIBA)

Peter Black said; “The question I’m trying to answer…is whether groups that aren’t associated with Islam or Muslims actually said they would. [use the building] or that they were even asked.

Mr Cassidy said he was ‘not aware of this’ – but pointed to a need for community spaces identified in Broughton Parish Council’s own local plan and also a submission made at the start of the inquiry by a local scout group leader, Fatima Ismail, on the benefits of the mosque.

Mr Black replied that he thought she was speaking on behalf of ‘a Muslim group’ – but this prompted the claimant’s lawyer, Christiaan Zwart, to say the comment was ‘overreaching’.

“The candidate is very sensitive to the descriptions that are used and [so] may i ask everyone to be very careful in their language of [avoiding] a sort of ‘them and us’ approach,” Zwart said.

“We are all one community here.”

Alban Cassidy said Ms Ismail’s Scout group was “also open to non-Muslims”. He also offered to clarify suggestions made during the inquiry that the mosque could be used for educational and childcare purposes – stressing that this did not mean there would be a madrassa on the site.

Mr Cassidy said such a facility – where Muslim children learn their religion – would be ‘school-like’ and not part of the proposal, while he also ruled out a permanent nursery or crèche, as opposed to something on a “very casual level”.

Pressed by Mr Black whether supporters of the scheme who expected it to include education and childcare offers were “just plain wrong”, Mr Cassidy said education “ in this formal sense” had never been offered – having previously offered women’s health courses as an example of the type of service that would be provided.

The inquest also heard that the Brick Veil Mosque would be one of those to provide a space in which women could pray.

Alban Cassidy explains: “Islam is a very traditional religion. In terms of prayer, it is very traditional for formal prayer in a mosque to be undertaken by men – and women and children traditionally pray at home or elsewhere.

However, he described the proposed mosque in Broughton as ‘progressive’ and said it would provide ‘the opportunity for women to attend if they so choose’, with separate prayer facilities available for them and young children in building. But he added that at other mosques where it was an option – including Masjid E Salaam in Fulwood – the “reality is that attendance is minimal”.

During cross-examination, Mr. Cassidy argued the suitability of the proposed parking arrangements for the project. The mosque would have a capacity of 248 prayer mats and associated worshipers, while there would be 150 parking spaces.

Asked by Peter Black whether 248 would be the “maximum” number of people in the mosque at any given time, Mr Cassidy said there might be “a handful” of these women and children attending prayers – but he stressed that they would. be unlikely to travel independently to the site in any event.

Seventy-seven of the parking spaces would be reserved for the use of shared cars, which the survey found would accommodate 217 congregants arriving by car, based on at least two people traveling in each of the vehicles occupying a shared space. This would mean that only 12.5% ​​of the faithful would have to get around on foot or by public transport.

Timothy Russell, the transport expert witness for the claimant, also told the inquest that he believed the separate shared-use cycle lane and walkway to be installed on the cul-de-sac section of D’Urton Lane in the framework of the mosque plans would count. as an “improvement” of the guild wheel of which it would form a small section.

He also responded to concerns expressed by the parish council’s transport witness earlier in the week about the ‘chaos’ that could be caused by drivers being turned away if they did not book a seat through the online booking system. line that would control access to the car park.

Mr Russell said that even in the unlikely event that vehicles were then illegally parked on D’Urton Lane, the reconfigured carriageway would be wide enough to accommodate two cars.

Under planning permission granted by Preston City Council in February, double yellow lines are set to be introduced if the parking management plan for the site fails to prevent ‘overflow parking’ on D’Urton Lane.

Mr Black told the inquest that the yellow lines currently in place were unenforceable as they were introduced on a temporary basis after the Broughton Bypass opened.

Following the inquest’s conclusion on Wednesday, Planning Inspector Darren Hendley – who is presiding over the proceedings – will write a report in which he will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Leveling, Housing and Communities as to whether the mosque should be permitted.

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