A former church is to be turned into a mosque, it was announced at a public meeting which was called after concerns were raised about work taking place on the grounds.

Chew Moor Methodist Church closed last year after serving the community for almost 170 years.

Recently work has been taking place on church grounds, which residents likened to their own 'village green'.

They say it has been "torn up" by workmen leaving residents upset. 

They met with ward councillor Anne Galloway, councillor for nearby Westhoughton, Martin Tighe, and prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency Chris Green last night (June 26) at Tempest United's club house to discuss their concerns. 

Cllr Martyn Cox outside the churchCllr Martyn Cox outside the church (Image: UCG)

Almost a hundred people packed the meeting, with some people stood outside to hear  what was being said.

Cllr Anne Galloway told residents that she had met with one of the developers for the site. 

She said: "He said that it is going to be a mosque and a madrasa. It would not require a change of use. 

"If it changed to a community centre as well, then a change of use would be required." 

(Image: Newsquest)

Although no planning application for a change of use would be required, she said there are plans to put a car park next to the church, which would need a planning application. 

She said she raised concerns to him about opening times, as prayer rooms and mosques can open as early as around 4am in the summer.

Cllr Galloway said she was told the "majority" would be in the afternoon and there would only be a "handful of people" in the mornings. 

The meeting took place on June 26The meeting took place on June 26 (Image: Newsquest)

Cllr Galloway added that he told her the madrasa, which is aimed at young people, would run between 5pm and 7pm. 

Read more: Concerns over development at historic church 'tearing up village green' 

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One resident raised concern about Ramadan, in particular when Muslims break their fast at night and go to pray at night raising concerns about the times.

Cllr Galloway said: "When the planning application for the car park goes in, you will have the opportunity to put that in as a complaint." 

Another resident asked if there had to be "some sort of local demand" for the facilities. 

Cllr Galloway replied: "They say demand is in Lostock. There is a growing Muslim population there and no community buildings there." 

Another resident said you "can't get through" the area now during rush hour, and that it would be worse with added madrasa traffic. 

Resident John Martindale, who saw the works taking place, said in a speech: "The works were taking place. There has been no consultation.

"It is beyond belief.

"The residents of Chew Moor and Lostock are horrified by the destruction of land adjacent to Chew Moor Methodist Church and ask Bolton Council to take action to prevent any further damage."

Mr Green said: "The strength of feeling on all planning matters is always abundantly clear. It is so important, whether you are political or apolitical, that local public feeling should be respected. 

"You have traffic all through the day, certainly at rush hour, and it is only going to get worse. 

"People using the venue, travelling a distance by car. The car park is not nearly big enough for their requirements. There is pressure on existing car parks in Chew Moor, it is not right they should depend on existing facilities."