Joy as mosque plan given the go-ahead

A MAN’S dreams of creating a mosque in Chipping Norton are now a reality after plans were given the go-ahead.

West Oxfordshire District Council’s Uplands planning committee approved the application to convert a former chiropodist’s premises on Hitchman Mews, off West Street, into a Muslim place of worship at their meeting on Monday.

Nine members voted in favour of the plans put forward by Chipping Norton town councillor Tahirul Hasan, while three voted against.

The application had attracted criticism from the town council which was concerned about the loss of retail space, while 28 letters of objection were received from residents and just two were in support of a mosque.

Planning committee vicechairman councillor Derek Cotterill said the application was approved on the grounds that it was a place of worship.

“Had it been any sort of prayer room, it would have been approved,” he said.

At the moment, people come from Moreton, Stow, Shipston, Woodstock and Witney to pray in Chipping Norton while the nearest mosques are in Banbury, Cheltenham or Oxford.

Councillor Rob Evans, Chipping Norton ward member, who voted in favour of the plans, said the main reason the committee favoured the application was the shop was not in the best location for retail.

“Its history has been chequered,” he said.

“It’s had a series of short tenancies that haven’t really lasted. It’s been empty for a while and it’s a very small premises.

“They have been wanting their own place of worship for quite a number of years. I think it’s quite logical of them to have their own place in a town centre.”

Applicant Mr Hasan, who started Friday prayers in the town hall seven years ago, said: “I’m very happy because the town council said no and WODC gave permission. It’s wonderful news.”

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