A senior figure for the Jehovah's Witnesses has hit out at the 'orchestrated campaign' against an application to create a worship hall on a community centre car park in Blackrod.

The application for the Jehovah's Witnesses hall attracted dozens of objections from local residents and was turned down yesterday because of the location of the proposed building and potntial impact on parking in the area.

The religious group wanted to site the building next to the centre in Greenbarn Way, where they have worshipped for 16 years.

It was argued by the applicant that parking spaces would increase because the car park would be resurfaced with the spaces marked out.

Andrew Ash, the trustees’ chairman for the Witnesses Horwich Congregation, said: “For 16 years we have been an integral part of the community.

“We have been surprised by the orchestrated campaign against the application.”

Residents’ spokesman John Price said: “This is not just about a church on a public car park or right of way.

“It is about depriving the local community of an amenity, the only piece of land in Blackrod.”

Councillors suggested that other buildings in the area could be looked at, such at the former Scot Lane End Primary School, which is owned by the Manchester Diocese.

Cllr David Wilkinson said: “We need to be clear on what the application concerns. The style and size of the building and the location on the front of the car park has a domineering effect.

“It is a large area of open space and to put a building on it would set a precedent and problems for the future.”

Meanwhile, a Mosque is to open in a former council building.

The Makka Mosque, based in Grecian Crescent, Great Lever, applied to use Weston House in nearby Weston Street as a place of worship and cultural community centre.

The office has previously been used by council departments, including environmental services and trading standards.

The mosque’s current site is in need of re-building and the group wanted to use Weston House on a temporary basis for five years.

Councillors granted temporary permission for two years to encourage the applicants improve the current mosque.