Manchester mosque gets a makeover

By Deborah Trickett

A Didsbury mosque is on target to raise £400,000 for its extension project, as devoted community members continue to donate cash.

Manchester’s Islamic Centre and Didsbury Mosque, Burton Road, is underway with its Expansion and Refurbishment Project after raising around £300,000 over the last year.

With the Muslim community growing in size, the project aims to improve space, especially the facilities for women worshippers.

While catering for Muslims who come for their daily prayers, it also provides for non-Muslims who wish to learn about Islam.

Mosque Leader, Imam Mustafa Graf, was pleased to gain planning approval for the final design in February after applying for the extension in March 2009.

Imam Graf said: “We work hard to establish good bridges with the residents, and we have a good relationship with them and with members of the council.”

The funds will help to build a second entrance, extend the women’s prayer hall, and to renovate the female wash room making it more suitable for prayer needs.

The project will also renovate the men’s washing facilities and the building’s ventilation system, as well as meeting the needs of the elderly and the disabled.

Chairwoman Pam Siddons, of the West Didsbury Residents Association, said the committee was assured the extension will not affect the space required for trees in the surrounding gardens.

Councillor Mark Clayton said: “The trustees of the Mosque approached me for guidance in relation to the complex planning procedures, all the more so because the Mosque is in a conservation area and a historically significant building in its own right.”

Having had complaints about blocking access, in particular during Friday prayers and Ramadan, Councillors have had protection yellow lines painted near the Mosque.

Manchester College student and local resident Lindsey Joyce, 31, explained: “This is a good area, with people from different backgrounds. But everyone knows that parking can be an issue with the Mosque. As long as it doesn’t get any worse then I’m happy.”

Staff at Albert’s Restaurant & Bar, Barlow Moor Road, have not had any complaints from their customers about parking since the Mosque has grown in popularity.

As well as being impressed with the generous donations from users of the Mosque, Imam Graf is also grateful for the worshipper parking service offered by Withington Community Hospital and Fielden Park College.

He added: “We do not want to see any neighbours unhappy. I’m not happy at the moment with people parking, but we have an arrangement,”

Councillor Clayton added: “I am pleased to say that a compromise that left both the Mosque and the residents happy was reached.”

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