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TOXTETH DEVELOPMENT: Proposal for homes in front of a mosque has been rejected

TOXTETH DEVELOPMENT: Proposal for homes in front of a mosque has been rejected

The Al Rahma Mosque, Image: Google Maps

A controversial proposal for homes right in front of one of Liverpool’s most important mosques has been rejected.

Proposals from Kenneth Guy would have eventually seen 11 houses built on land off Rosebery Street, close to the Al Rahma Mosque.

However, members of the council’s planning committee unanimously rejected the proposals this morning, saying the four storey buildings would be out of keeping with the wider area.

The decision is a huge win for opponents of the scheme, who have objected strongly to both the plans themselves and a linked agreement to transfer ownership of the land from the city council to Mr Guy.

Construction work had already started on site after a 2018 planning committee decision to grant permission.

However, key legal documents that would have finalised the decision and confirmed financial contributions that would need to be made by the developer were never signed.

As a result, council enforcement officers ordered a halt to construction after being told workers were on site at the beginning of this year.

Today’s decision also throws the ownership situation for the land into uncertainty.

Liverpool Council, the current owner, is set to transfer the lease to Mr Guy at some point in the future.

However, the completion of that transfer is contingent on planning approval for a development being granted.

Protestors gathered around the site this morning to protest against the development and the lease transfer.

Many also spoke at this morning’s committee meeting.

Farhad Ahmed, a trustee of the Liverpool Regional Mosque Network and the Abdullah Quilliam Society, said the effect of the proposed development on the mosque and the community who use it would be dire, negating a large amount of investment made in the wider area.

Mr Ahmed said that Al Rahma Mosque played a role in the lives of many of the region’s 40,000 strong Muslim community similar to that played by the  cathedrals in the lives of Liverpool’s Catholics and Protestants.

Mr Ahmed said: “Liverpool has England’s oldest and most diverse Muslim community, with more than 60 nationalities.

“Al Rahma Mosque has the largest congregation and is the most widely known mosque, regularly attracting worshippers from surrounding boroughs and across the North West.

“Due to the central role that mosques play in Muslim worship and public life, Al Rahma Mosque is used heavily, five times a day, and during religous festivals such as Ramadan it is used 24 hours a day.”

He said the mosque was surrounded by buildings on three sides and that approving the new homes would be tantamount to allowing an inappropriate development to be constructed right next to the Anglican Cathedral.

Others speakers at the meeting focused on the proposed four storey design of the development, arguing it was out of keeping with the area.

Princes Park ward councillor Lucille Harvey said the new development would “severely impinge” on the privacy of worshippers in the mosque and said adding 11 more properties to the area would exacerbate traffic problems that already exist in the area.

While many committee members said they were sympathetic to the issues faced by the mosque, it was ultimately the scale of the proposed new homes that councillors referenced when rejecting the plans.

Multiple committee members said that after visiting the site they had been convinced that the design of the buildings, at four storeys, meant they would be “incongruous” with the wider community.

The mosque itself is only between two and three storeys high.

Proposing that members reject the application, councillor Tony Concepcion said that after visiting the site this morning he was convinced that the scale of the development “would cause overshadowing and affect the residential amenity of neighbours”.

Councillors unanimously backed councillor Concepcion’s motion, meaning the plans have been rejected.

As with all rejections, there is the opportunity for the applicant to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

 

Words: Nick Tyrrell, Local Demcoracy Reporter


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