Guildford council criticised over Islamic centre

A Muslim group has criticised Guildford Borough Council after it rejected an application for a new Islamic centre. Guildford’s Muslim Education and Cultural Association wants to convert a former garage in Recreation Road. The council rejected the plans because of possible disturbance to residents and concerns about parking.

Osama Khan, from the group, said the council had not understood the application and they would appeal against the decision. He said the town had at least 1,000 Muslims and the only meeting space currently available for prayer was a room at the university which had a capacity of 500.

Mr Khan said: “This would be basically an educational and cultural centre for the Muslim community who live in Guildford and around Guildford. We did mention very clearly that any community from the Muslim families will come to the centre through public transportation because any parking space on Recreation Road is actually dedicated to the residents anyway. There isn’t any [parking] space and we are very much aware of it and that’s why we actually bought that land because it’s central to the town and so that they are well connected to public transportation.”

A Guildford council spokesman said: “The council does not have a duty to provide accommodation or sites for any religious group or faith.”

BBC News, 28 September 2011