PLANS for a new mosque have sparked protests from neighbours who fear an increase in noise and traffic .
More than 150 Millfield residents packed a public meeting to voice concerns about the impact the proposed place of worship would have on their area.
Neighbours at the meeting claimed the site, on St Mark’s Road, was not put on the open market for sale and the council has agreed, in principle, to sell it to the Pakistani community.
There are already concerns in the area about the impact caused by an illegal mosque at the other end of the road which is currently being used by worshippers.
A legal mosque stands just yards away on Chester Road. However, local councillors say this predominantly serves the city’s Bangladeshi community, which practises a different form of Islam.
Millfield residents say that the existing illegal mosque in a former food store, which has been served with an enforcement notice, creates traffic problems and noise at prayer times and that a larger mosque will exacerbate the problem.
The public meeting was held in the Mountain Daisy pub, on Hylton Road, to discuss the proposed sale which will go before cabinet on Wednesday.
Marjorie Matthews, 77, of Aiskell Street, said: “This is the wrong location for a mosque. It’s on a busy road next to the main walkway for the Millfield Metro. It’s completely the wrong place.
“Apparently a site at Leechmere Industrial Estate was on offer, which would have been much better as there is more parking, but they turned it down.”
“This sale has been kept very quiet by the council, but we want as many people as possible to sign a petition. It carries a lot of weight. We had road humps stopped in Millfield stopped through a petition.”
The proposed mosque would be built on the site of a council depot behind the Aldi supermarket and it’s believed it would serve as a main place of worship for Pakistanis across the region, while also serving as a community centre.
It was reported at the meeting that the council had been in negotiation for some time with the Pakistani leaders who have agreed to pay the full market value, £450,000, providing planning permission is granted.
Paul Dixon, Liberal Democrat councillor for the ward, who spoke on behalf of the residents’ association, said: “The Pakistani Community will only buy this site if planning permission is granted. The more letters the council get, the more objections, the better.
“If there is a strong enough feeling against the mosque it won’t go ahead.”
Coun Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “There is interest to purchase the freehold of council-owned land and property on St Mark’s Road, Millfield.
“This land has been identified as surplus to requirements and a decision will be made in due course.”