Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Mosque for Cambridge

I'm told that the Cambridge muslim community is interested in building a mosque on the former John Lewis warehouse site on Mill Road. I understand the site has been purchased, and there is likely to be a planning application. The main Cambridge mosque is currently squashed in to premises between Tenison Road and Mawson Road, and there have long been calls to make land available for a new purpose built mosque. The John Lewis site is much larger and currently becoming increasingly derelict:

Modern Britain can be proud of its tolerance between different faiths, and of the freedom to practice religions that is still not the case in many parts of the world. However, many residents in the area may be apprehensive about what a new mosque in the area may involve, and this would be an ideal time for the muslim community to build links with the wider community to break down barriers caused by ignorance and even fear. If I was involved in the project, I would want to be communicating with local residents and community groups immediately - and not wait until a planning application has been submitted and rumours have been allowed to get ahead of the reality.

Whilst I would support the muslim community generally in its desire to build a new mosque, any planning application should be considered on its merits. This is a large site, so any redevelopment is likely to be mixed use including housing. My usual concerns about quality of design and construction, transport, car parking and cycle parking would all apply, along with the desire not to see the distinctive mix that is Mill Road overwhelmed, and to see significant liaison and bridge building with the wider community.


Anonymous said...

Tesco was stopped on the grounds of parking, noise, etc. How interesting that in contrast you expect this politically correct application to be nodded through. Why? Where is the money coming from to build this mosque? Why is this part of Mill Road deemed suitable? It is not a Muslim area. Why should the local residents be blighted with this large development? Tom, Mill Road

Chris Howell said...

Hi Tom, I think you have misunderstood what I am saying:
'any planning application should be considered on its merits.'
Ie. I certainly wouldn't want any application for this site to be nodded through - local residents should be allowed to have a real say, and the types of issue that caused the rejection of the Mill Rd Tesco extension all need to be considered, and people need to be happy that any planning application for the whole site is appropriate.
That said, there is already a mosque just off Mill Rd on a very cramped site, and there is clearly a demand for new premises. I would hate to think of Britain being seen as a place that is intolerant of other religions, in the way that some Islamic states are intolerant of Christianity to some extent - I wouldn't call this view politically correct - but I am putting the onus on those behind any mosque plans to build better links to the wider community to help win people round to the plans.

the truth said...

Before letting muslims build another mosque in our country, we should be looking at the fact that it was only reported in our papers, of literally thousands of muslims, who were condoning more bombings in our once peacefull country. Have those 52 people in the London bombings, and the hundreds killed in Lockerbie been forgotten already. They were all inspired by islam, and they were all taught in mosques, so do we need another, when there are already 1,600 in the UK already.
There are many video clips on youtube, where followers of this peacefull religion, are praising the killing of us non-believers. It might pay anyone who is thinking of approving this plan, to perhaps take a look at these first. You may like to start by viewing one named (islam will destroy the UK) Just take a look, and open your eyes to reality. islam is not a religion, it's a political gang.

Chris Howell said...

I completely disagree with the premise of the last comment.

There is no evidence that a well run new mosque in Cambridge will have anything to do with terrorism.

There is a clear need to tackle violent religious extremism from whatever source. It is difficult to see how this aim will be helped by denying a mainstream religion that is overflowing from its current premises the chance to build a new place place of worship. I think these plans could be a chance to break down barriers of mistrust between communities which is where problems start, and so deserves support.

I don't like to reject comments, but the suggestion 'all followers of Islam are terrorists' is clear inflammatory and likely to cause offense, so such comments are unlikely to be approved.

Anonymous said...

I am a Mill Road resident, living opposite the intended new mosque site. I'm perturbed to hear second hand about the plans to build such a large development of this site without any consultation of local residences.

Mill Road is a fair and vibrant area with mixed and varied culture and welcomes people no matter what race or religion and this is something I think we should all be proud of, however I think a development of this size would be beneficial to a minority and impact on the majority.

Living in the Mill Road area we already host a number of different religious buildings including the Seven Day Adventist on Hobart Road. The small church on Hobart Road already impacts on residents with no car parking attached to this building residence often find themselves unable to park outside their own properties on a Saturday. A mosque meters away from this site would only exacerbate this problem and is unfair on local residences.

I am appalled that local residence have not been consulted at all on the development proposal, where is community engagement and free and open government? Decisions are being made behind residence backs, the people who live and work and contribute to the area, why, when and how will we be consulted?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment - is there going to be a consultation with local residents ??
This is a huge site and whoever develops it has a responsibility to the whole community, not just a minority.
Have the plans been accepted ? Why are we not being kept informed ?

Anonymous said...

I agree with last comment - when are local residents going to be consulted ? This is a large site - whoever develops it has a huge responsibility to the whole community, not just a religious minority

Anonymous said...

A public exhibition and consultation will take place on Wednesday 7th September 2011, 2pm - 8pm. Venue: Ross Street Community Centre, CB1 3BP