Update, Sunday 13th February. Broughton Parish Council set out their objections in a guest piece below in the Preston Community Blog.
Opinion: Why Broughton Parish Council opposes new mosque plans
A book I have not read since I was in Sixth Form (these days Y13, about to take A-levels) is Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse. Keith Waterhouse was a writer I rather admired. If you don’t know his best known work from 1959 it is about the trials and tribulations of William (Billy) Fisher who lives in a small Yorkshire town working at a dull job in the local undertakers. He hopes for better things and aspires to a career in London writing for a well-known comedian. To cope with the tedium of reality he has an elaborate fantasy life and three separate fiancees. His life gets quite complicated and although it is generally thought of as a comedy there is an underlying sadness.
In one chapter Billy is walking on the moors above town dreaming of his personal republic Ambrosia, while on an errand to dispose down a pothole some personal effects which have offended his father. He meets Councillor Duxbury and has a conversation with him in a Yorkshire dialect, most of which he is making up as he goes along, to bewilder the older man.
And comes out with a sentence which has stayed with me, and which I was reminded of this week with the news about a proposed mosque in Preston Lancashire (cricket rivals the other side of the Pennine Hills)
‘Well, progress is all very well,’ I said. ‘But it’s a pity we don’t have a Yorkshire tradition o’ progress.’ . . .I nodded down at the police station. ‘I don’t mind dark satanic mills, but by gum when it comes to dark satanic shops, dark satanic housing estates, and dark satanic police stations -’ I broke off, realizing that I had never worked out the end of this sentence.
Which is, of course, a play on the words of the hymn Jerusalem, words by William Blake.
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Gentle readers, I give you…
The dark satanic mill mosque.
An application to build a mosque for around 250 worshippers in Broughton was approved after a three hour debate. Preston City Council’s planning committee considered the application at a Town Hall meeting today and heard representations from the applicant, from Broughton Parish Council, and from ward councillors.
The plans will see a uniquely designed place of worship built on land off D’Urton Lane, near the exit from the M55. Following a competition organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the winning design is based not on traditional mosques, but instead with a brick clad exterior and mill-inspired minaret serving as a nod to Preston’s industrial past. “…unique in drawing together Islamic tradition with a modern twist on a Victorian mill design.”
It’s a 30 metre tall minaret disguised as a factory chimney stuck onto a cake tin, perched on a hill high above the slip road to the M55 and overshadowing the Parish Church. These are the architect’s presentation drawings.
There have been a lot of objections from local residents about this. Mostly about parking, and it being out of keeping with the village. Also that there are few Muslims in the area to merit such a large imposing mosque. In the last Census 99.2 per cent of residents were not Muslim.
But the answer to that came from mosque supporter Mrs Ismail who said that when the mosque is built Muslims will move to the area, attracted by it. Her own husband has refused to move to any area where he does not have a mosque in walking distance.
If you build it, they will come. I have heard that one before.
The area’s MP is Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. From the Lancashire Post
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is the local MP, is backing the opposition and is said to agree with the parish council’s request for the application to be reviewed by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
Broughton Parish Council will spell out 20 reasons why the landmark building should be refused permission on their doorstep, describing it as “wholly inappropriate and directly in conflict with the wishes of the community.” .. on heritage grounds the council adds the mosque would be “completely out of keeping with the historic village and will overshadow the historic Grade II* church, old grammar school and cottage around which the local parish community has revolved for centuries.
Broughton Parish Council says it has had to invoke the government “calling in” process because “we are not being listened to by Preston City Council.”
I’ll be keeping an eye on this dark satanic mosque.