CONTROVERSIAL alterations to a mosque have been approved by Bolton Council.

Officials from the Masjid Al Aqsa mosque in Gilnow Road, Halliwell , had applied for retrospective planning permission for changes made to the building since it was built in 2003.

Objectors to the plans claimed the building had spread by one metre to the south and 20 square metres to the south eastern side.

Neighbours in Gilmore Gardens also complained about windows overlooking the properties and the overhanging structure that accommodates the “mihrab” feature—acircular niche in the building signifying the direction of Makkah.

Cllr Andy Morgan told Bolton Council’s planning committee: “I believe people are chancing it and I think we need to give out a message that you cannot flout the planning process. If we don’t, we may as well all go home.”

After a consultation with people in Gilnow Gardens in November 2005, the building was moved from the east side of the plot to the west.

Further changes were made in 2010, to move the building four metres to the west to avoid a cultivated watercourse.

The planning committee praised the applicants for raising funds for the building themselves and agreed there was a need in the community for the prayer facility.

Cllr Champak Mistry said: “I am surprised the people who put this project together, who must be praised for what they have done for the community, are being blamed. From what I understand it was the architects who made the changes.

That building is going to be there if we say yes or no.”

Cllr Kevin Jones also supported the plans. He said: “I remember the site before the mosque was built and it was a petrol station.

To me it’s better now than it was then.” The retrospective planning permission was granted.