East Lindsey District Councillors have approved plans to build Skegness’ first mosque and community centre, despite concerns from nearby residents over parking.
The authority’s planning committee voted in favour of Skegness Central Mosque Group’s plans, including four self-contained flats, which will be built next to the former Methodist Chapel on Roman Bank.
Applicant Naseer Iqbal told councillors he had purchased the site after more than 10 years with no interest and called it a “blot on the landscape”.
He said the new centre would serve all people, both Muslim and the local community, with part of the hall available to rent for public events.
He told councillors: “We are a small, peaceful community that needs a place to worship.”
Objectors say they are concerned about the impact on traffic including congestion on Roman Bank and inadequate parking leading to an overspill into residential areas.
The meeting revolved around parking spaces accessed via two private roads.
Mr Iqbal told members he had moved some of the parking following consultation with residents who he said had feared overlooking.
However, he said they had later changed their minds from being supportive to objecting after he showed them the revised plans – something residents denied following the meeting, saying they had only been shown the original plans which had parking to the front.
During the meeting, Councillor Danny Brookes told members he did not object to the centre, but said: “If cars were parked round the front, I wouldn’t be sat here now.”
Approving the plans, councillors gave power to planning officer Paul Edwards to try to resolve the issue either by working with residents on access to the rear or finding alternative parking locations.
Councillor Jill Makinson-Sanders said: “It’s important that we encourage diversity in our communities and we should congratulate people for wanting to do up a derelict building.”
Councillor Dick Edginton added: “I’m pleased someone’s put forward an application to improve what is an eyesore on one of the busiest roads in Skegness.
“If we can come up with a compromise that satisfies all parties I would support that.”
Following the meeting Mr Iqbal, who has lived in Skegness for 45 years and runs a local business, said he would be amenable to coming up with a compromise and called on all neighbours to “get on with one another”.
“We are local community and we just want to be accepted as a local part of local community,” he said.
“It is a community centre for the whole of the town, not just for Muslims or non-Muslims, but all of town,” he said.
Arson attack delays build further
An arson attack on the site of the community centre earlier this year has hit the plans funds and building works.
Earlier this year, the site was targeted by what police say was a hate-crime.
On Sunday, October 6, around 45 firefighters attended a fire at the two-storey derelict building the facility was hoped to replace.
The incident was later said by police to be arson and carried out as a hate crime and an investigation was launched.
On November 19, police issued CCTV footage of a man they wished to trace as their investigations continued.
No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing.
Mr Iqbal told reporters following the planning meeting that the incident had not left the organisation with much money.
He said the attack had resulted in a required demolition of the site and clearing of asbestos.
“At the moment there’s not much in the kitty and we will have to start fundraising again,” he said.
He said how much money the build would now require would have to be calculated now it had been approved in planning, but that building would not take place for at least another two-three years.
Anyone with information regarding the arson attack is asked to contact Lincolnshire Police on 101 quoting 19000533449.
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