A Muslim community hopes to transform an empty building in Grantham into a community centre.
The Grantham Muslim Community Association (GMCA), a registered charity, has put in a planning application to the district council to convert the former Henry Thompson & Sons solicitors offices in Elmer Street North, which backs on to ChristChurch in Finkin Street.
It is an alternative to the charity’s unsuccessful plan two years ago to build an Islamic centre in Mowbeck Way, off Alexandra Road, which led to a protest march by the England Defence League.
It was later withdrawn after planning officers said references to it being a place of worship meant it was not a community centre in planning terms.
In the new application, the GMCA said that for a number of years it has been renting venues such as the Guildhall and village halls for social and cultural gatherings, family meetings and activities for children. However, events have been cancelled on several occasions as venues were unavailable.
The application states: “The community has been looking for some time now for their own space in Grantham town centre for these activities and gatherings.”
They would use the centre for these events plus coffee mornings, social awareness talks, weekly Friday prayers and two-yearly Eid prayers and a Saturday school providing Quran and Islamic education to children – an activity which has taken place at the Guildhall since 1995.
The GMCA said: “We would like to emphasise that our community centre will be open to and welcome everyone irrespective of their religion and background.”