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Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Why Camberley's Muslims need a new mosque
By Heather Driscoll-Woodford
BBC Surrey

Muslim man praying at a mosque
The present building currently does not meet the Muslim community's needs

The Victorian school building which is used as an Islamic Centre in Camberley is cold, damp and the occupants say it is expensive to maintain.

The facilities were designed for school children in the 1800s, not the modern Muslim community who now use the site.

Abdul Wasay Chowdury, Project Manager of the proposed new mosque in the Surrey town, shows BBC's Nick Wallis around the existing building.

A final decision on the plans is due to be made by the local council this week.

At present, Mr Chowdury says, worshippers are forced to pray in different parts of the former St Gregory's school building, including the kitchen, due to the current layout.

He says the people who use the facilities are desperate for a purpose built place to practice their religion.

And they will dig deep into their pockets to help fund it, should their planning applications be approved.

The building which started life as Yorktown Infant School was designed in 1871 by notable Victorian architect Charles Buckeridge.

It was given locally listed status in 1989 when the surrounding area including the Royal Military Academy, was designated as a conservation site.

It was used as a school until 1996, when it was sold to the Berkshire, Hampshire & Surrey Bengali Welfare Association who have used it as an Islamic centre ever since.

Local Surrey Heath Borough councillors initially voted to approve the plans at a planning applications meeting, going against the advice of their own planning officers, who had recommended refusal.

It later transpired that some parts of the planning process had been conducted incorrectly, and now a final decision is due at a full council meeting in Camberley Theatre at 7pm on 10 March 2010.

The council will be streaming a live webcast of the meeting which you can view using the link from their site www.surreyheath.gov.uk .




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