SHAFAQNA- Computer-generated images of plans for a new £7.5m mosque on Alcester Road, Balsall Heath, show how it will regenerate the wider area.
A new mosque will regenerate an unloved part of the city and help bring the whole community together, according to its architect.
Computer-generated images of plans for a new £7.5 million scheme at the site of the current Clifton Mosque, off the Alcester Road in Balsall Heath, show how shops and sports facilities will be given a new lease of life.
Architect Bob Ghosh, of K4, said the scheme had been designed to be inclusive, with the group behind the plans hoping it becomes a hub for the whole community – not just Muslims.
The wider development also includes the demolition of the former Mr Clutch garage and construction of a new community sports hall in its place with facilities for volleyball, badminton, five-a-side football, gym and a café.
Mr Ghosh said: “There are buildings there which have been closed for 20 years.
“I think it is very important this part of the city gets regenerated.
“I can remember when there are Mr Clutch there and since then there has been low-grade retail but now they have built the Lidl nearby there is a sense of things picking up.
“Now, we will be adding a café and a sports facility – which will be open to all parts of the community.”
He added: “They have opened the process up – I have been at meetings with members of the Anglican and Catholic churches there too.
“They have also engaged young people. A lot of times, problems occur when young people are not engaged and the strategy from the start has been to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Funds have already been raised internally for the new mosque and more is being sought from the global Shia community.
The scheme, headed up by Birmingham’s KSIMC (Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Muslim) charity, includes a new funeral home, sports centre, shop and apartments.
The existing single storey worship hall, known as the Imambara, will be demolished and replaced with a grand three-storey building.
The linked mosque will be remodelled and extended and topped with a hollow gold dome and minaret.
Mr Ghosh said K4 set out to create a building which was in keeping with Balsall Heath and welcoming to more than just Muslims.
He said: “I think we were chosen because our proposal was for quite a neutral building.
“There are some Islamic references already on the site, which we will be replacing with high quality materials, but the new parts are quite subtle.
“Our approach was it still has to adapt to the context of the area. Balsall Heath has a very rich collection of historic buildings and the idea was this did not look out of place with the other buildings.”
A total of 29 objections were lodged with Birmingham City Council over the proposals, which go in front of Birmingham City Council’s planning department on Thursday.
The plans also drew ten comments in favour of the development.