Mosque leaders have lost their battle to stay in their Grade-II listed home of 40 years after plans to convert it into flats were given the go-ahead.
Manchester Council’s planning committee approved an application from developers Church Converts to transform the Welsh Baptist Chapel, on Upper Brook Street, Ardwick into 93 studio apartments.
The 1830s building was named by the Victorian Society as one of the 10 most endangered buildings in England and Wales in 2010, five years after the main chapel building had to be closed for safety reasons.
The Islamic Academy of Manchester currently conducts prayer sessions and community work from a smaller Sunday school building on the site but will have to leave the council-owned site in the coming weeks.
Riaz Akhtar, of the Academy, said he was ‘disappointed’ with the move and that mosque leaders are concerned they will be forced to leave the Ardwick area.
He said: “We’re disappointed as it is a decision which affects a lot of people, people who use the premises not just as a place of worship but as a place of social wellbeing.
“We are looking for a way to stay in the area but at the moment that is proving problematic as there doesn’t seem to be much available.
“Ancoats is our community and we believe we’ve done a lot of good work in the community in over the last 40 years, from helping social integration to working against the radicalisation of young Muslims, and that is work we want to be able to continue.”
Church Converts have been in negotiations to bring the main chapel back into use since 2009 and will convert both buildings under the redevelopment.
Council bosses ordered a partial demolition of the chapel in 2012 because of safety concerns and it is now missing large sections of its roof and walls. It has also been on English Heritage’s list of ‘at risk’ buildings for many years.
The Islamic Academy tried to agree a deal to buy the building for £150,000 in 2006 but had to pull out as it was unable to afford a further £180,000 needed for repairs.
Source: Manchester Evening News / Written by Richard Wheatstone