Residents and mosque on parking collision course

Azhar Ghafoor says many of the claims are unsubstantiated
Azhar Ghafoor says many of the claims are unsubstantiated
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A BID to renovate a city mosque is facing opposition from residents who claim traffic congestion at prayer times is already an “intolerable burden”.

Local residents’ group EH4 has complained about unsafe parking and the huge number of cars visiting Blackhall Mosque, and it fears the plans to add new rooms the House O’Hill Road facility will only make the situation worse.

The group stressed that there were “no race or religious issues” with the mosque, which has been operating in the building for three years.

The mosque has hit back saying it is being unfairly targeted while a local councillor believes the problems have been “exaggerated”.

EH4 has written to councillors ahead of an expected planning application to add a mezzanine level to a building of the mosque which would create classrooms and a community centre.

In the letter, EH4 said increased traffic – partly due to commuter parking following the implementation of restrictions elsewhere in the city – had sparked concerns that “it was not possible for the mosque to integrate into [the] community”.

It read: “Our neighbourhood was previously a much sought after location for young families. This has, without question, been adversely affected by the congestion and parking issues.”

The group said it spoke for the “overwhelming majority” of the 174 houses in the area.

Ward councillor Stuart McIvor, however, defended the mosque and argued the group did not reflect the views of a majority of residents.

“Quite frankly it’s a handful of people [complaining], maybe six or seven, and I don’t know what their motives are,” he said. “They maybe don’t want the mosque at all in the same way people may not want a supermarket or new school in the area.

“I’m more than happy with the mosque, who have engaged with the community, and are very good neighbours.

“The vast majority of people are more than happy to have them there.”

Azhar Ghafoor, chairman at the mosque, admitted there had been traffic and parking problems but said: “I think we are being unfairly targeted because a lot of allegations in the [EH4] letter are unsubstantiated.

“We had a meeting in January to keep local residents informed so if they we are having problems we can address those.”

Mr Ghafoor said the traffic congestion can occur for around 45 minutes each week – 30 minutes during Friday prayers and around 15 minutes on Saturday afternoon.

A council spokesman said: “We are aware of the complaints and will continue to work with all groups involved to deal with any issues that arise.

“The council is currently seeking a Traffic Regulation Order for extra double yellow lines in the area to prevent dangerous or obstructive parking.”