Planning permission has been granted for the Western Isles’ first mosque.
The comhairle granted approval on the eve of Eid ul Adha - one of the holiest occasions
in the Muslim calendar.
The Asian community on Lewis intend to convert a derelict building in Stornoway town
The small mosque will have a prayer room with a meeting room across the hall.
The building was originally a house but later used as a store for an electrical contractor.
The rundown premises is an eyesore, have lain empty for many years.
Plans granted in 2013 for an Asian community centre allowed for a purpose-built facility
for people to celebrate family and cultural events as well as annual religious festivals.
Some of the families backing the original proposal have moved away while having a
place of worship would help the six recently arrived Syrian refugee families to settle
better on Lewis and avoid them feeling isolated so far from home said the community
The latest design creates a smaller facility by upgrading and repairing the crumbling
building at 14 James Street.
The mosque would be mainly used for afternoon prayers for about an hour on Fridays
which is the main day for the Muslim community.
Even then only a maximum of 20 or so people are expected to attend.
The premises would also host special events like birthdays and funerals - when non-Muslim
friends and neighbours would be part of the gathering.
It would also be used during the month of Ramadan.
A spokesman for the Asian community said: “We are all happy the council approved
the mosque before Eid - so more for us to celebrate.”
Eid al-Adha celebrations are getting underway following the annual Islamic pilgrimage
Eight representations were lodged over the plans which mainly highlighted parking
issues as well as the potential hazard of building just metres away from a oil storage
depot and fears over noise.
The council’s own roads section suggested the developer seeks a “permanent parking
solution possibly by sharing with adjacent businesses.”
“Whilst the development being in a conservation area may attract a relaxation of
standards it is likely that the demands for parking will exacerbate the current problems
in the area.”
Planning officer Morag Ferguson pointed out most buildings in the town centre conservation
area - including shops - do not have dedicated parking spaces.
Cllr John A Maciver highlighted vehicles already park in the street beside the site
so “I don’t see why there will be a problem.”
The upgrade will “actually enhance the area,” said Cllr Keith Dodson.
Cllr Neil Mackay queried the proposal for a metal sheeting roof instead of slate
in a conservation area.
The committee gave the go-ahead on the strict condition natural slate roofing is
The Asian community spokesman said they were already planning to change to slate
and were delighted with the outcome.