9:00am Thursday 5th June 2014
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 21ft high minarets and a central dome on top of a former Methodist church in Halesowen have been condemned by residents and councillors.
Objectors fear the proposed additions to the Long Lane Baitul Ghafoor mosque will “stick out like a saw thumb”.
Tracey Willetts, who lives opposite the building, described the extensions as “horrendous”.
Halesowen North Conservative councillor Karen Shakespeare said the two minarets and dome - measuring 11.5ft high and almost 9ft wide - looked “ginormous”.
Residents said they felt “let down” by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association which said there were no plans to alter the external appearance of the building when they bought it and converted it into a mosque two years ago.
Mrs Willetts said: “They have made it look nice after it was left neglected and empty, but the scale of what is planned is totally out of keeping with the building and the area. It will stick out like a saw thumb.”
“They are not thinking about the people who live opposite. I can’t believe they are considering planning permission. It’s disgraceful.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association’s local president Dr Masood Majoka said the two minarets and dome would be “entirely in keeping and in proportion with the building”.
He said: “The dome and two minarets will really complete the mosque, like churches have spires, it creates their uniqueness. We fully respect other faiths and hope it is the same the other way.”
Dr Majoka acknowledged the association had said it had no plans to make external alterations at the time of the church conversion, but added that such extensions had never been ruled out.
He promised the building would “maintain its grandeur” and the colour of the dome, although not decided, would match the colour of the brickwork.
But Cllr Shakespeare slammed the size of the proposals as “excessive” and is sending the council a formal objection as is Halesowen North UKIP councillor Stuart Henley.
He added: “I have personally worked with the mosque on community work and they do great work in the area, but the extension of the building does not need to be built to continue the work they do and to pray in their building. “
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