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Canton residents and councillors object to plans for new mosque

CANTON residents who are opposing plans to build a new mosque have been backed by local councillors.

Councillors Ramesh Patel, Richard Cook and Susan Elsmore co-signed a letter to Cardiff Council’s planning committee which shared the concerns of residents over the traffic and parking problems that a new mosque on Sanatorium Road would cause.

The mosque, run by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK, will have a minaret and dome with a two-storey Imam’s residence and community hall. It is their second attempt to get planning permission to build the mosque.

The first application was rejected due to traffic concerns and because the Imam’s residence would be too small for a family to live there.  

Addressed to James Clemence, the council’s head of planning, the councillors wrote: “Residents are concerned about the impact of the increase in traffic from worshippers at the mosque in what is already a very busy area. [It has] schools, a GP surgery and pharmacy, a vet, a nursery, and a gym. This would add further pressure to parking within the locality, in what is already a heavily oversubscribed area.”

The letter comes after more than 130 residents posted objections to the plans. There was also a petition which gathered over 200 signatures from people living near Sanatorium Road.

Coun Cook said: “Residents have a right to object as traffic has increased a lot in the area already. A petition has gone around and they are right to question the plans on the grounds of traffic and parking.”

Helen Lewis, from Lansdowne Gardens, was one of the residents that objected to the proposal. She said: “They need to consider the safety of those who live and work in the area. A mosque will only increase traffic.”

According to the plans, the mosque will be open for daily prayers which take place five times a day. They begin with a sunrise prayer from around 4am and end with the night prayer near 11pm.

The application says that the midday prayer is expected to attract the most worshippers with roughly 30 people attending. It also says that the Ahmadiyya community in Cardiff is made up of just 144 people so disruption will not be significant.

Haris Malik, a Canton resident, agreed with this. He said: “The traffic generated will be very minimal as the community has a low membership and most of the prayer time will fall outside peak hours.”

Tracy Healan, of Broad Street, disagrees. She said: “I object because of the hours they will worship and because of the traffic this will bring to the area at all times of the day.”

Nicola Whitty, another resident, also objected. She said: “Please find room somewhere else for this latest idea as we can’t cope anymore.”

An anonymous leaflet criticising the application and wrongly claiming that council leader Phil Bale had already approved it was also posted to people living nearby.

Coun Patel said: “The leaflet was wrong. I object to the plans based on the legitimate worries of residents, not because of the leaflet. It was wrong and malicious.”

Coun. Cook agreed. He said: “The leaflet drew more attention to the issue. People didn’t know about it before but it was rather unfortunate and almost malicious. It doesn’t help the situation at all.”

Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan has also written to the committee to share his concerns on behalf of residents. He wrote: “This application, for a place of worship, on a site very likely mainly to be accessed by car would represent a very significant increase in traffic.”

The planning application was submitted on September 9. It was open to public comments until October 27.

No date has yet been given for when a decision will be reached but it is expected to be in the December or January planning committee meeting.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK was contacted for comment but has yet to reply at the time of publication.

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