The proposed new Dudley Mosque
Dudley has had a Mosque standing on Castle Hill for the last thirty years, and it’s congregation have a reputation for co-operation with neighbours and good relationships across the whole community. Given the various rumours in circulation, we hope that the information below will help provide accurate information, and an understanding of why a new Mosque is being proposed, and what it would be like.
Why is a new Mosque needed?
The current Dudley Central Mosque has been in use for thirty years, and is now too small for the population, with a capacity of 470 worshippers when full. The new Mosque will increase the capacity to 750 worshippers, with a separate area for women accommodating an additional 300 worshippers in the balcony. During times such as Eid, the current Mosque operates well beyond it’s capacity, and at times has to hold up to three separate prayer sessions. As such, the proposed new Mosque is intended simply to meet these needs, rather than expanding attendance. The current building would either be sold to raise funds, or used for community activities.
How does the Mosque compare to others in the West Midlands?
The Mosque would be one of many in the West Midlands, and would not be the biggest Mosque in the Black Country, let alone the West Midlands. In the Black Country, Wolverhampton has a significantly larger Mosque than the proposed building, with Walsall also boasting a good sized building. The West Midlands, Birmingham in particular has a number of larger Mosques.
The Mosque is intended to serve the local community only, and given the other Mosques in local cities is not expected to draw attendees from outside of the current catchment area.
How would the Mosque be funded
The Mosque has never received any public money, and will not receive any. Islamic practice means Mosques can not be built with public funds, and so it would be against Islamic principles to accept donations from public sources or sources incompatible with Islamic principles.
No money has been offered, or would be accepted from Saudi Arabia. The denomination of Islam practiced in Dudley Central Mosque is a different one from that practiced in Saudi, and so there is no likelihood of any offers being made. Funding will be raised primarily from local Muslims, who will make pledges to pay annually towards the cost of the Mosque in the same way that many other faiths, including churches may raise funds for a new project. Sponsorship via donation of materials etc. will also be sought from Muslim businesses.
Following initial consultation with local residents, including church groups, it was agreed to lower the height of the single Minaret to 65 foot. This is both lower, and considerably shorter than the height of the local civic church, St Thomas and St Luke. There will be no outdoor call to prayer, and the Mosque would feature substantial parking. The ground on which the proposed Mosque would be built is an old factory, which has stood derelict for 20 years, with no interest from developers prior to the purchase of the site by the Dudley Muslim Association. There is no suggestion of an ‘Islamic Village’, and never has been.
What sort of Islam would be practiced at the Mosque?
Dudley Mosque practices mainstream Sunni Islam. Leaders and members from Dudley Mosque have for many years worked with the local community, council and police to build relationships and open their doors to the local community.
Dudley Central Mosque is a strong and active member of Dudley Borough Interfaith Network, working alongside people of many faiths and backgrounds to make a positive impact in our community. The recent ‘One Borough’ pledge was formed through work with Dudley Central Mosque, as a joint declaration of peace and recognition of our work together towards this. The Mosque welcomes anyone who wishes to better understand their beliefs or practices, and as an Interfaith Network we can support in visits to the Mosque, or meetings with members of the Mosque community.
What’s happened with planning permission?
The application for outline planning permission for the Mosque was recommend by approval on planning grounds by council officers, but then rejected by the elected officials of Dudley Council’s development control committee in 2007. The following year outline planning was granted on appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. Dudley Council appealed against the decision and the case was heard at the High Court in July 2009.1 The judge rejected the argument of Dudley Council under planning law, and outline planning permission is now in effect. Outline planning permission enables the applicant to make fuller, more detailed plans for submission. Dudley Muslim Association is now free to submit an application for full planning permission, which would again follow planning law.
Conversation is ongoing between Dudley Muslim Association and Dudley Council, both of whom hope a way forward may be found shortly.
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