Construction work has got underway on the site of the new Lincoln mosque, almost two and a half years after the proposals were approved.
The mosque will be built on the site of a former dairy factory on the corner of Dixon Street and Boultham Park Road next to the Lidl supermarket.
Plans for the mosque put forward by the Islamic Association of Lincoln were given the go-ahead by the City of Lincoln Council in November 2012.
Since then, the association has worked to attract the funds needed for the project.
The total cost is estimated to be in the region of £1.5 million and the mosque has been fully funded through individual donations, the majority of which have come from Lincoln and the surrounding areas.
The mosque will be the first purpose-built prayer facility for Muslims in Lincolnshire and is set to be completed early next year.
The new building will have prayer facilities for men, women, teaching spaces for boys and girls, a library and a funeral preparation room.
It will also include dedicated parking for 68 cars and cycle storage spaces.
Previous attempts for a mosque to be built in the city have been controversial. A former site proposed by the Islamic Association was rejected due to parking issues and was later burnt down.
Last year, around 100 people supported the East Anglian Patriots’ (EAP) anti-mosque protest in Lincoln, which also saw a counter demonstration from the Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism (LARF) group.
Dr Tanweer Ahmed, chairman of the Islamic Association of Lincoln, said: “It’s very exciting news that work is finally going to get underway and thanks to Allah that we’re here today to start the construction that we’ve been waiting a long time for.
“The journey has been a long one to get where we are now – over 10 years – but I think it’s very important for the Muslim community in Lincoln. We don’t have a mosque and we’ve been renting the Grandstand for over 10 years now.
“It’s very important for the city as a whole – the mosque will be a landmark to promote diversity in Lincoln.
“Some people were concerned about car parking, that the war memorial would be demolished and that there’d be loudspeakers for the five time prayers so we’ve worked really closely with residents to address these concerns and remove a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions.
“People have a right to protest but we’re more interested in building relationships with local people and communities.”