Landmark Preston mosque signed off by secretary of state
Nearly a year after it was first greenlit by the city council, the Brick Veil Mosque off D’Urton Lane has outline planning approval.
The 16,000 sq ft mosque was the subject of an international RIBA design competition in 2021, which was won by London-based architect Luca Poian Forms. Coming in at three storeys, the focal point of the religious building is the 30-metre-tall minaret.
Preston City Council had already indicated its approval of the project at a planning committee meeting in February last year. However, before approval could be finalised the secretary of state opted to call in the application.
The final decision to grant planning permission comes after a six-day inquiry last summer led by inspector Darren Hendley. Upon the conclusion of the inquiry, Hendley recommended the secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities approve the project.
It was a recommendation that Lucy Frazer, minister of state for housing and planning, followed in her decision letter – which was written on behalf of secretary of state Michael Gove. The letter was published on Monday afternoon.
Concerns had been raised early on regarding the proposed Preston mosque, primarily over projected traffic increases, the site’s location in open countryside, and the visual impact on nearby historic buildings. Frazer addressed each of these
In her letter, she stated that D’Urton Lane would be capable of accommodating the increase in traffic. She also said that the 150-proposed parking spaces were part of a “robust package of measures to address car parking,” alongside a travel plan for cyclist and pedestrian access.
The two-acre site’s status within the open countryside was acknowledged by Frazer, who also pointed out that the site did not meet the qualifications for brownfield designation. The mosque’s location was presented as in conflict with the area’s development plan.
Also going against the application: the impact it would have on the setting of the grade two-star listed Church of St John the Baptist. This was deemed as “less than substantial” harm though.
Working in the application’s favour, however, was its strong design, its goal to achieve a BREEAM rating of Very Good, and the need for a place for local Muslims to worship.
In Frazer’s decision, she noted that Luca Poian’s designs for the mosque “exceed the aspirations of development plan policies”.
The planning approval for the mosque only covers the scheme’s outline application, although the layout included in this application is listed as one of the conditions for approval. A reserved matters application is set to be submitted in due course.
Preston-based consultants Cassidy + Ashton Group spearheaded the planning process for its unnamed client.
Alban Cassidy, director of Cassidy+Ashton, said he was “delighted” by the result.
“We have always argued that the overwhelming need for a mosque in Broughton and North Preston due to the growing Muslim population and the outstanding quality of the architecture justified planning permission being granted,” Cassidy said.
“It is so pleasing that first Preston City Council, then the planning inspector, and now the secretary of state have agreed with us,” he continued.
“This will be a wonderful landmark for the city to be enjoyed by the whole community for many years to come.”
Preston City Council cabinet member for planning and regulation, Cllr David Borrow, also praised the outcome of the inquiry.
Borrow said: “We are pleased that the secretary of state’s decision is to approve the planning application following the public inquiry last year. This is consistent with the decision of the council’s planning committee.
“We were surprised that this application was called-in by the secretary of state in the first place with the unnecessary cost to the council taxpayer, but at least the outcome was the right one.”
Want to learn more about the project? The mosque’s planning application reference number with Preston City Council is 06/2021/0431. The reference number with the Planning Inspectorate is APP/N2345/V/22/3296374.