More than 4000 people have signed a petition against a controversial plan to convert a disused bank into a mosque ahead of a meeting next week to decide its future.
Councillors will decide on Monday whether the bank chambers in Green Lane can be developed into a mosque. Worcester Park resident Jacki Chillman appealed to others who do not want the plans to go ahead to make sure they make their presence felt at the meeting.
She said the plan would bring in traffic the area cannot handle, is not necessary, does not have enough parking and will not be widely used by the local community and thinks councillors on the development control committee should knock back the long-running application when they meet to consider it on Monday, December 3.
Miss Chillman said: “It’s mainly because of the traffic congestion it will cause. People are opposed to this, there have been hundreds of objections and people have signed petitions – councillors need to act on behalf of the majority of people.
“The parking is terrible, the majority of the people who will use it are not from the Worcester Park area. The applicant says it will enhance the community – but that’s only for a specific group of people.
“I’d have the same complaints if it was a nightclub or a nursery because the area cannot handle the traffic. That building would be suitable for a solicitor’s office or something like that – not something which will have so many people coming to it.”
Plans to convert the building into a mosque have been around since 2009 when it was bought but the planning application was only submitted this year.
The council has received more than 100 representations in support of the mosque on the grounds there is need for it in the community, it will bring customers to nearby shops and businesses, it will reduce traffic to the Kingston mosque and it will make good use of the building.
The meeting will happen at Cheam High School, Chatsworth Road, Cheam from 7.30pm on Monday, December 3 and is open to the public.
As is usually the case with mosque planning applications, the claim that opposition is based solely on concerns about traffic and parking cannot disguise the fact that many anti-mosque campaigners have very different motives.
Some of them make no attempt to hide this. “We all seem to be expressing our opposition largely based upon parking and traffic congestion”, one objector recently complained on the Worcester Park Blog. “Am I the only person concerned that this will lead to the devaluation of property, closing of businesses and the islamification of the area?”
Another comment reads: “There are more than enough Mosque’s in England Would a Church be allowed to be built in a Muslim country? I think its a disgrace to even think about building a Mosque in Worcester Park.”
The Worcester Park Blog’s Facebook event page, Public Meeting: Worcester Park mosque planning application decision, features even more extreme statements. Here are some examples:
“There are already 6 Muslims centres within 5 miles of here and a HUGE mosque 2/3 miles down the road there’s no need whatsoever for them to build another one!!! The only reason they are allowed to build them anywhere is cos local authorities live in fear of being branded racist for saying no!!! Last time I checked the history and heritage of this once great nation I don’t remember reading anything about Allah!!!!”
“next the high street will be full of there shops and our house prices will drop 30%, and we all have to move our kids out the schools because there forced to learn about allah”
“Got the kingston mosque right near me. They take the piss. Think they own the place.”
“can these fuckers not afford to get a fuckin bus to morden???? drop me out you sandal wearing shit cunts!!!”
“If they want a mosque tell them to fuk of to there own country. We wouldn’t be allowed to build a church in there country so tell them fukin talibans to fuk of home.”
Another Facebook page, Ban the Worcester Park, Green Lane Mosque, includes a photo of a far-right poppy badge carrying the slogan “Try burning this” and features a post calling for Abu Qatada to be tortured or killed.
The National Front has demonstrated against the mosque, with veteran Nazi Richard Edmonds condemning the proposed development as “the thin edge of the alien wedge Enoch Powell warned us against”.
And a popular far-right Facebook page has just posted an appeal to its supporters to attend tomorrow evening’s planning committee meeting. Predictably, this has provoked the usual stream of violent abuse, with comments calling for the building to be burned down or blown up and for worshippers to be killed.
So I think it would be fair to conclude that objections to the Worcester park mosque are not restricted to worries about traffic congestion and parking space.
Update: See “Mosque Plannning Application REJECTED”, Worcester Park Blog, 3 November 2012