Moray’s Muslim community is celebrating after plans for a mosque in the area were given the green light.
Elgin Islamic Centre has been granted approval for the change of use of former council offices on South Street to create a new place of worship.
Under the plans, the building at 78 South Street would house prayer areas initially, with potential later developments including a library, function room and educational facilities.
Welcoming the decision were Liaqat Ali, Nemit Ali and Lansana Bangura, who have been part of the committee driving the proposal forward.
Mr Bangura, a retired engineer who lives in Garmouth, said the local authority had already agreed to sell the building, subject to the change of use consent. This week’s decision means they can move to the buying stage, with the price tag for the premises set at £195,000.
“This is the big step, and so we are delighted,” he said. “We have been trying to create a mosque for a few years now, and while it is still a way off, this is a really positive move.”
Some 50-70 members of Moray’s Muslim community currently meet for Friday prayers at Bishopmill Hall.
“People come from across the area – Forres, Lossiemouth, Keith, Buckie – so it will be great to have our own building,” Mr Bangura said.
“The immediate priority is to ensure that there are prayer facilities first, so that we have a place in which we can pray at all times. That can be up to five times a day.”
Moray’s councillors gave the go-ahead for the sale of the property last June, subject to this planning consent.
That came after the office was vacated and declared surplus to council requirements in the spring.
It is not yet known when the mosque could open for worship, with the purchase and internal refurbishment required first.
Mr Bangura added that there are no plans to change the outside of the building.