Bulwell mosque: Locals told they have 'absolutely no chance' in efforts to halt plans

Members of the public, all white, talking to each other in various conversations, standing and sitting in meeting room at Bulwell Riverside, Bulwell, Nottingham
Around 30 people attended the meeting -Credit:Nottingham Post

A group of Bulwell residents packed into a room at the Riverside Centre on Friday, April 12, to discuss their efforts to halt the proposed building of a mosque in the town. Around 30 people attended the 75-minute meeting to speak their thoughts on the likelihood that the place of worship will go ahead.

An application was submitted to Nottingham City Council in January for the building of the mosque, on vacant land behind Cinderhill Road. But the plan has caused outcry among some locals, with one at the meeting saying she "feels racist" for her opposition to the proposal.

She said: "I think we're known as the local racists now. I've been told I'm a racist and it makes me feel like one because I don't want a mosque. But I just feel we're being driven out. Our area of community is going to be completely overtaken."

The meeting began with an apology in advance for the appearance of the committee. The chair claimed that she had had "15 hours of sleep in the past five days" while going through thick and thin to plan a way to stop the work from going ahead.

She said: "We're on our last legs. This has nearly killed us. I've had about fifteen hours of sleep in the past five days. Look at the state of us, for goodness sake. I have a life but I'm going to be divorced next week. I'm going to have to put my dogs into kennels."

Then a paper agenda was handed out to attendees. On it were a list of concern areas and reasons why the mosque would not suit the area.

The list was spoken through by members of the committee, who touched on points such as traffic concerns, biodiversity issues and potential noise problems. They also cited the lack of Muslims in the Bulwell ward - claiming that the population was 2.7% Muslim according to the 2021 census, compared to 38.8% in Hyson Green, 37.2% in Sneinton and 33.9% in Radford.

Afterwards, the floor was opened up to members of the public, to ask questions - particularly of Bulwell Labour councillors Maria Joannou and Michael Savage and Nottingham North MP Alex Norris, who were also present.

But the group were advised in no uncertain terms by Mr Norris that their efforts and arguments were probably in vain. He told one of the three members of the makeshift anti-mosque committee that there was "absolutely no chance" that they'd win their fight outright to stop the building wouldn't go ahead.

Plenty of the group agreed the concept drawings of the building were "beautiful", comparing it to the Taj Mahal in India. But they said that its proposed location behind bungalows in the town was "totally wrong" and that the building would "stand out like a sore thumb", with one man saying that privacy "will be gone" and another saying it would "take all our daylight".

Despite the bitter pill spoken by the MP, many appear to not be giving up.

A CGI rendering of a white mosque building. A car park is around the building
Plans have been submitted for a mosque in Bulwell -Credit:Homework Designs / Nottingham City Council

One man argued that residents would have the same problem with "any religious establishment" being put there, as its size would be completely disproportionate to the site.

Another said: "It's going to break our community up. We've got a nice community around us and it's going to go. It's not fair."

After the meeting, a number of residents spoke to Nottinghamshire Live. They argued that the safety of the road was the "main job".

Jonathan Whyley, who's lived in the area for 26 years, said: "I've got nothing against Muslims. I just think it's in the wrong location with that road. It's the safety of the elderly that is a concern with the increase in traffic."

And Colleen Clarke, who lives right in front of where the mosque would go, said: "It already takes me 10-15 minutes to reverse off my drive onto Cinderhill Road sometimes. The traffic is absolutely horrendous. One day the road will collapse from the amount of cars on it.

"It's dangerous as it is. But (the planners and developers) seem to only have assessed it during the school holidays while it's quiet."

The planning application submitted to the council stated that the ‘overall character’ of the complex is to be “a sustainable, holistic place, which is calming and natural, and takes advantage where possible of the surrounding landscape and natural feature.” The design and access statement reads: “The congregation currently meet in Hucknall, at the Husami Markaz mosque, situated in the former Old United Reform Church on the corner of Portland Road and Henry Street.

“This [Hucknall] site has deficiencies in terms of adequate space for the growing number of members, insufficient car parking, and general inappropriateness of the building shape and orientation for the ideal exercising of religious ceremonies."

It continued: "It was imperative to the trustees to find a site thatwas self contained ensuring that disturbance to neighbours bwould be minimised and conversely users of the site would not be disturbed by anyone from outside."

No members of the mosque or the council's planning department were present at the meeting. The outcome of the planning application is set to be determined on April 22.