The Ely Muslim Association unveils plans for community centre in Chettisham

PUBLISHED: 16:30 15 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:36 15 January 2014

The furniture warehouse in Chettisham

The furniture warehouse in Chettisham

Archant

A warehouse in Chettisham could become a community centre for the district's Muslim population under plans submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council this week.

The Ely Muslim Association currently meets and prays at the Paradise Centre in Ely, but the group has been on the lookout for a more permanent home in the city for a number of years.

Under plans submitted to the district council this week, the group has outlined its desire to convert part of Aquarius Furniture, in Chettisham Business Park, into a community centre.

In a statement to planners, the group said: “The Muslim community is aware that potentially this application could become controversial but is hoped that the proposal will not cause any adverse issues with the relationship with adjoining users and occupants and that the change of use to this building will be acceptable.

“The proposal presents an economically viable opportunity to create a meeting place for a community of approximately 60 to 65 people from a catchment area on Ely, Soham, Littleport and the surrounding villages and will increase the potential for increased cooperation with the non-Muslim population.”

The group said that, currently, for cultural and religious affairs the local Muslim population had to travel to Cambridge, which, it said, caused “hardship and inconvenience” and emphasised the need for a more local facility.

It said: “For Friday prayers, a dance classroom has been hired on an hourly basis at the Paradise Centre in Ely and, whilst gratitude is given to the management of the centre, the space has been found to be unsuitable for the act of worship.”

The group added that, as well as prayers, the centre would be serve as a meeting place for Muslims of all ages and genders, a space to provide and facilitate educational, social and recreational activities and a space in which to celebrate religious and cultural festivals.

The centre would also assist with research and IT facilities for accessing services including health, employment and housing.

And the group said it was keen for the proposed development to act as “An information centre to illustrate the Muslim beliefs with the wider community to lead to a better understanding of Islam in the current environment of mistrust.”

A decision is expected on the plans within the next eight weeks. To view the plans, or to have a say, visit www.eastcambs.gov.uk

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