OFFICIALS proposing a Muslim centre in Oswestry say they hope it will ‘build bridges’ in the community.
The Oswestry Muslim Society is currently seeking planning permission to convert the Oswald Road Fine Furniture business into a religious base for weddings, meetings and religious festivals including Eid-Ul-Adha and Ramadan.
The £300,0000 project could end the organisation’s ten-year search for a permanent home.
George Miah, chief adviser of the society, said: “If successful our youngsters, the new generations, can go there and enjoy activities and bring their friends to give them a grass-roots start to mixed communities, so there is better understanding between everyone locally.
“It is not just about religion. We want to invite people from all backgrounds to come along and have a chat,” he added.
Currently the society’s 200 members who come from across Oswestry, Ellesmere, Chirk, Llanymynech and Welshpool, meet at the Memorial Hall and the Eastern Oswestry Community Centre.
Mr Miah said the group’s plans for the former Presbyterian Church was a big task, but revealed with £90,000 already raised, plus support from international donors and plans to fundraise locally, they were confident of success.
He continued: “This will give us something of our own, giving us rooms which have a purpose like a nominated prayer room which can be maintained and kept pure at all times.
“The site is slightly big and needs quite a bit of work and for our small community it might be too big, but we have been looking for and needing a home for a long time,” Mr Miah said.
The group’s plans submitted to Shropshire Council last month include creating a kitchen and lounge area on the ground floor, with additional toilets on the first floor.
Addressing Oswestry Town Council planning concerns over parking, Mr Miah said with most members arriving on foot, the remaining members would park in the existing town centre car parks, adding: “We will only have a Friday afternoon congregation, the rest of the time prayers will be held in the evening.”
A decision is expected from planning officials by January 11.