Traffic fears over new London Colney mosque site

PUBLISHED: 14:59 02 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

The proposed site of the mosque

The proposed site of the mosque

A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a £600,000 mosque in a village has prompted fears about the amount of use and traffic it will attract. The plan is to change the use of office space at Cemex House in Lowbell Lane, London Colney, to a site to be used for religious

A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a £600,000 mosque in a village has prompted fears about the amount of use and traffic it will attract.

The plan is to change the use of office space at Cemex House in Lowbell Lane, London Colney, to a site to be used for religious and community purposes.

Cllr Dave Winstone has called in the proposal which will be considered by councillors on a planning committee on November 19.

He said: "It has aroused fears that such a large mosque will attract significant numbers of visitors from outside the area. This raises traffic and parking issues for residents.

St Albans MP Anne Main commented: "Given the size of the Cemex premises I share residents' concerns that the proposed use, which suggests that this building would only be used by approximately 50 people, does seem to be an underestimate of the potential usage of the site. It is only reasonable that these projections, and associated traffic movements, are fully explored.

"Having read through it, I believe it is right that it is called in to be scrutinised fully in committee as with any other large application which may have an impact on parking, traffic movements and local residents.

"This is a very busy stretch of road, where speeding has given rise to numerous accidents and near misses, and I think it is important that the highways issues associated with this site, and the entrance, are fully scrutinised."

But Peter Trevelyan, acting for the London Colney Islamic Group which has submitted the application, said the size of the site was misleading.

He said: "Due to the drop in commercial property prices, this site has been on the market for two years so my clients could buy it for a reasonable sum.

"Having been frustrated in its search for suitable premises, the local community currently uses the parish meeting room on White Horse Lane once a week for Friday prayers. The main hall is small and inconvenient in shape and, with 50 people present, is cramped and over-crowded."

The large site - around 1,900 square metres - with provision for 33 car parking spaces consists of two separate parcels of land on either side of Lowbell Lane.

The plan includes an entrance foyer, toilets, prayer hall for men, kitchen, education and recreation rooms, office space and facilities for an Imam and a caretaker with storage space.

Prayers would take place five times a day but the principal focus for prayer would be at 1pm on Fridays when attendance varies between 40 and 50 men and a handful of women. The majority would walk to the site from homes and employment nearby. Some would come by car but, at the present site, the Friday prayers attract at most a dozen private cars, according to Mr Trevelyan.

At present there are two mosques in Hatfield Road in St Albans - one serving Bengali speakers and one for Urdu speakers as well as the two smaller ones in London Colney - again for the two differing language groups.

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