A RESIDENT has hit out at plans to turn a historic site into a mosque.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association (AMA) has asked Kirklees Council for permission to convert Fartown Pavilion into a mosque and community centre.
The proposal would involve improving the inside of the pavilion.
Huddersfield Rugby League Club and Yorkshire Cricket Club both played at the Spaines Road site during its 133-year history.
But local resident Murtaza Ali opposes the AMA’s plan to convert the site into a mosque.
He said: “Fartown Pavilion is a place of sporting heritage. Its historical value is just as great as Castle Hill or Huddersfield Town Hall.”
Mr Ali said the area did not need another Muslim place of worship.
“There are already five mosques in Birkby and Fartown,’’ he said. “There are plenty of places where Muslims can go and offer their prayers.
“Another mosque would only add to the traffic problems on Spaines Road, especially after Friday prayers. It would cause great difficulty for parents going to pick up their children from Fartown High, All Saints and Birkby Junior School.”
The 420-strong AMA is currently based at Lower Fitzwilliam Street, but the group wants to relocate some of its sporting and educational events to the pavilion.
However, Mr Ali believes this would discourage others from using the site.
He said: “The pavilion is currently used by all ages and both genders. These people would feel uncomfortable using the pavilion if a mosque is built there. They may feel it’s a place for Muslims only.
“There is also the possibility that people will vandalise the mosque.”
But Munir Ahmed, president of the Huddersfield branch of the AMA, said the group’s plan would benefit the local community.
He said: “Over the last 18 years the pavilion hasn’t been open to everyone, it has been a private facility used for weddings. If we are allowed to go ahead with our plans, our doors will be open to the public.”
Mr Ahmed added that the AMA was sensitive to the site’s historic importance.
He said: “We understand the historic relevance of the pavilion to Fartown. We want to restore the building to its former beauty.”
Mr Ahmed said the AMA needed to move from its home at Lower Fitzwilliam Street.
He said: “We’ve been there for 25 years and we’ve outgrown the premises. It’s true that there are other mosques in Birkby and Fartown, but people want to go to a particular type of mosque, just as Christians have separate churches for Baptists, Anglicans etc.”
And Mr Ahmed said there would be less traffic at Spaines Road if the AMA’s plan went ahead.
He said: “At the moment people use the pavilion until the early hours of the morning. If it was a mosque, people would come for 30 minutes. There would be a substantial reduction in traffic.”
Public consultation on the planning application ends on July 29.