Protest over mosque plan

Building work on a giant mosque and community centre, dubbed the Pride of Dudley, could begin within months, it was revealed today.

Protest over mosque plan

Building work on a giant mosque and community centre, dubbed the Pride of Dudley, could begin within months, it was revealed today.

The £15 million scheme, which has been opposed by more than 2,000 people because of its size, will be back before planners in the new year.

And Dudley Muslim Association chairman Khurshid Ahmed claims work on the building could start next summer.

He dismissed criticism over the scale of the project and the use of public money to fund it.

Mr Ahmed said the objections had been blown out of proportion and public money was earmarked only for the community centre which will be attached to the mosque in Hall Street.

"It is for all backgrounds, faiths and for different people to mingle," he said.

"We have three hills in Dudley. The castle stands on one, which is the highest building. The second is St Thomas's Church, which is 167 feet high, and the third is for the mosque."

The original scheme was withdrawn after a big public protest but a redrawn plan is now before council officials, who will make a decision as early as February.

Mr Ahmed said: "The opposition was to a 200-foot mosque becoming the highest landmark.

"In fact, it was 110 feet high and we reduced it to 65 feet to blend in."

There has been four years of bitter wrangling over the project, with anti-mosque campaigners lodging unprecedented numbers of objection letters.

Concerns centred on the proposed height of the mosque's minaret, the use of public money to further the plans and worries the structure would dominate the Dudley skyline.

Dudley Ukip councillor Malcolm Davis claimed public opinion was vehemently opposed to the mosque.

A spokesman for Dudley Council said any application would be treated like any other planning matter.

By Mark Walsh

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