The mosque behind plans to build a new place of worship in Nash Mills has said the venue would ‘not be packed out’ every day if it was built.
Local residents have been raising concerns at the mosque’s capacity of 500, and fear it could make already-bad parking problems in the Barnacres Road area even worse.
But in an exclusive interview with the Gazette, the general secretary of Hemel Hempstead Mosque, Jhangeer Hussain, moved to calm these fears.
He said: “The mosque is not going to be packed out every day. On an average prayer day we have about 20 people. The capacity is 500, it doesn’t mean we will get it every day, it won’t be a daily occurrence.
“There might be one time a year when it might be a lot more, but even at St Albans Hill we’ve never met 500.
“I think people are making assumptions. They don’t really understand the day-to-day workings of the mosque.”
Nonetheless, the Transport Assessment carried out by EAS Transport Planning Ltd states that the mosque would operate at ‘full capacity’ around three or four times a year.
And while the assessment backs Mr Hussain’s claims that 20-40 people attend prayers daily, it adds that the Friday lunchtime prayer is the ‘most attended’ with around 300 to 400 people attending.
The site which the mosque has been built on has been derelict for a decade; the proposed new mosque would be a ‘purpose-built facility’ said Mr Hussain, which would offer facilities for women and children not found at the current premises in St Albans Hill.
Mr Hussain added: “The mosque has always been open to discussion with the community. We’ve gone out of our way to inform the parish councillors of the timings of the day-to-day workings, and everyone was happy at the time.
“I did ask to attend a parish council meeting, but that offer was declined.
“It’s a sensitive issue, but we want this mosque to be questioned and answered on planning terms by law, and not by hearsay.”