Public inquiry into Camberley mosque plans

St Gregory's Roman Catholic school building
Image caption The building was sold to the Bengali Welfare Association after the school closed

A public inquiry is to begin into plans to build a mosque in a Surrey town.

The Planning Inspectorate will host the inquiry into the scheme to build the domed mosque with minaret in London Road, Camberley.

The plan by the Bengali Welfare Association (BWA) was turned down by Surrey Heath Borough Council but the organisation has appealed.

The inquiry starts at 1000 BST at Camberley Theatre and members of the public are invited to attend.

The borough council said tickets for the 360-seat theatre will be allocated on each day of the inquiry on a first-come-first-served basis.

Heated debate

Residents wishing to speak at the inquiry are advised to register their interest with the council.

The planning application provoked heated debate in the run-up to the council's decision in March 2010.

Local historians and residents had argued the town's heritage must be protected and opposed the plans.

The BWA argued its existing building no longer met the needs of the growing local Muslim community.

Image caption The planned mosque would replace the building which has been used for worship for 15 years

The plan involves knocking down the listed Victorian school building, which is about half a mile from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

It was originally home to Yorktown infants and primary schools, before later becoming St Gregory's Roman Catholic school.

When the school closed, the building was sold to the Berkshire, Hampshire & Surrey Bengali Welfare Association (BWA) which has been using it as an Islamic centre since 1996.

The public inquiry is scheduled to sit on 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 and 13 April.

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