Council bosses have bowed to public pressure by giving residents more time to express their views on a controversial planning application to build a mosque in Hemel.
Residents were upset that not enough promotion was given to the proposed plans, which would build a three-storey mosque at the site of the derelict Nash Mills Methodist Church in Barnacres Road.
And council bosses now seem to have been swayed, and have extended the deadline for people to submit representations by two weeks to Wednesday, November 29.
Residents are up in arms over what they fear could prove a ‘traffic and parking nightmare’ if the mosque were to be built.
But in an exclusive interview with The Gazette, which will be put online in full tomorrow (November 23) the mosque has said that residents should not have any fears over parking problems, and say they are ‘open for discussion’ with the local community.
On extending the deadline, a council spokesman said: “This commonly occurs with applications. The period was extended as the site notice was posted after the initial neighbour letters were issued.
“The time periods are set in legislation/regulations by central government as part of the wider framework for the determination of applications.”
But Councillor Jan Maddern, an independent councillor for Nash Mills on Dacorum Borough Council, said: “I don’t think there was sufficient time for such a huge, huge local interest planning application.
“I asked for them to extend the deadline, and originally the officer said that no they wouldn’t.
“But the council has now confirmed that people have until November 29.”
More than 1,500 residents have signed a petition concerned at different aspects of the planning application for the mosque.
Many signed the online petition angry at the lack of time afforded to give residents the chance to express their views in the consultation.
Others though have signed the petition with concerns over traffic flow and transport issues around the proposed site.
The development would have 35 parking spaces. If attendance figures are similar to what is predicted in the planning application, then the average attendance of about 20 people predicted for four out of five prayer meetings each day would be well met by parking spaces.
But predictions of at least 100 for lunchtime prayer, and up to 300-400 on a Friday lunchtime, could cause problems.
Resident Gill Smith told the Gazette: “We are extremely concerned about the already-gridlocked roads during the rush hour around Belswains Lane and London Road, and through Kings Langley, as well as at Bennetts End car park.
“If the traffic and parking becomes mayhem then a lovely fairly tranquil part of Hemel will be lost.
“The site is not at all suitable for such a large capacity venue of any kind, never mind one that holds meetings five times a day and into the early hours every day, and some neighbours will be strongly opposing.”
Another resident, Sandra Driver, added: “We’re very worried about the parking.”