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Hundreds of residents appear to have lost a lengthy campaign to stop the expansion of a Cardiff mosque, despite the plans being refused on two previous occasions.
Cardiff Council has granted the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association (AMA), which has around 170 members, permission to extend their building on Sanatorium Road into a two-storey mosque with minaret, dome, community hall and Imam’s residence.
A similar application had previously been thrown out twice due to fears over an “exponential” increase in traffic and noise pollution. Following the previous refusal in March 2017, an appeal was lodged with the Planning Inspectorate with a public enquiry scheduled for January this year. But the inquiry was deferred in anticipation of the fresh application which was approved at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday.
A 60ft minaret will now join the Cardiff skyline even though the committee attached conditions which will prevent the use of an external public-address system to call worshippers to prayer. The expanded mosque is expected to be in use five times a day, seven days a week and 52 days of the year.
More than 500 local residents had signed a new petition objecting to the plans as well as concerns being raised by Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government Mark Drakeford and constituency MP Kevin Brennan.
Local resident Kevin May said traffic congestion was already at “saturation point” and that he had “grave concerns” over the impact the investment will bring to the area.
The 31-page petition claimed that giving AMA the green light was “totally irresponsible, dangerous, and total disregard for the local residents living in this area”.
“If the AMA state they only currently have 170 members, (161 stated in the revised Travel & Event Management Plan) and with membership on the increase especially due to recent recruitment events they have held in other Mosques in Cardiff, why do the AMA require such a large development to be built? Furthermore, if there is not going to be a call to prayer, why do they need to build a minaret?” the petition states.
“In addition, local residents have recently been advised that the AMA have purchased the building next door to the proposed development…this is a perfect example that the AMA clearly wish to expand and increase the amount of members that they currently have. However, the AMA have failed to include their revised Travel & Event Management Plan projected figures for future growth of membership.”
AMA, which says its aim is to promote the “true and peaceful teachings of Islam”, says it has been seeking a “suitable place of worship” for a number of years having occupied a range of venues across the city on a temporary basis.
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