By Gordon Deegan
Plans for a large-scale mosque in West Dublin have been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála in spite of local opposition.
The board has given the green light to the Shuhada Foundation of Ireland for the four storey mosque, community centre, and primary school on the site of Warrenstown House, a former HSE facility in Blanchardstown.
Dr Taufiq al-Sattar, a Dublin-based neurosurgeon, pledged to build the mosque in memory of his late wife Shehnila Taufiq who died along with their daughter Zainab (19), and sons Bilal (17) and Jamal (15) in an arson attack in Leicester, England, in September 2013.
The plan is to also include a halal shop and a barbers.
The appeals board has given the ambitious plan the go-ahead after finding that the proposal would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or property in the vicinity and not give rise to a traffic hazard.
The board gave the plan the go ahead after its own Senior Planning Inspector, Karla McBride recommended that planning permission be granted at the end of a 35-page report.
Ms McBride said that the minaret - which calls Muslims to prayer - will be a high slender steel cylindrical structure with the Crescent cut out at the top of the Minaret.
Last year Fingal Co Council gave the plan the go-ahead, but this was appealed by Ashbourne, Co Meath resident, Patrick Regan on noise pollution, traffic congestion and lack of public consultation grounds.
Mr Regan was a former local resident but his concerns were amplified by a number of other locals who lodged observations, and one petition, with the appeals board outlining their opposition against the plan.
They expressed concerns over a number of issues including the visual and noise impacts of minarets; excessive scale, overdevelopment and unsustainable development; lack of integration with the local community and creative of an exclusive community.
In response, Fingal Co Council told the appeals board in a submission that the minarets will not be visually obtrusive and any potential noise disturbance will be controlled by planning condition.
The Council also stated that the applicant has indicated that the school and community centre will be open to everyone.
Plans for the development, which would be one of the largest mosques in Ireland, were first lodged with the council in 2016.
However, they were substantially revised and scaled down last year after the council raised concerns about the scale of the development.
In his appeal, Mr Regan stated that Dublin 15 was “one of the largest and most welcoming multi-cultural communities in the county and understand the need to be provided with opportunities for worship and may require their own place of worship”.
He added: “However the large scale and size of this project represents a major regional religious and cultural centre which will serve a huge area.”
He said that the centre would generate “huge potential traffic congestion” and parking issues, as well as noise pollution.
He said: “The call to pray can often start as early as 5.30am and the last call to pray at 9pm causing noise pollution with up to 150 worshipers attending at any one time during normal day prayers without the celebration of Ramadan and other social events.”
The new purpose-built mosque will be financed from Dr al-Sattar’s family fund, his life savings, and donations from the Muslim community in Leicester. He also has plans to fundraise among the medical community in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.