Council grants permit for Horsham mosque

HORSHAM Rural City Council has approved a permit for a mosque in Stawell Road, Horsham.

Members of the Horsham Islamic Welfare Association will use the mosque for regular worship and to mark religious occasions.

The association had planned to convert an existing weatherboard house, which it already used, as a permanent place for prayer but experts ruled the house unfit for renovation.

The house will be demolished to make way for a new, smaller building featuring a kitchen and office, bathrooms and separate male and female prayer areas.

The association had originally presented a design featuring four minarets, but pared it back to three and made the building narrower after community objections.

Mahabubur Mollah said there would be a carpark with up to eight parks at the front of the property and a mosque at the rear.

"Our main objective is to bring people together, create a harmonious society and be good neighbours," he said.

"This is good for the Wimmera and the wider community and we have shown goodwill in modifying the design."

More than eight Wimmera community members wrote to council in support of the proposal, including a Horsham GP, scientists and other professionals.

There were four letters of objection, including one from a Wimmera builder.

Bob Redden of Haven said the mosque was needed in Horsham.

"It is a good idea to facilitate freedom of religious expression through this proposed building," Mr Redden said. "It reflects well on Horsham city, which has come of age multiculturally."

Alan Bedggood of Horsham said another place of worship could only improve Horsham and encourage family-orientated people to the region.

"The presence of a mosque may well attract more professionals to Horsham," he said.

Horsham accountant Asif Khan said he had moved from the United Kingdom to live and work in the Wimmera and his first concern was a place of worship.

He said Horsham, as as a growing city, should be willing to 'think big'.

"Horsham should maintain the wild visions to ensure its progression into the future by harbouring professionals from all over the world," he said.

But he warned that Horsham could not grow unless it was 'ready to cater for the cultural and spiritual needs of professionals from various backgrounds'.

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