Oxford Gurdwara to be rebuilt despite concerns

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Some worshippers have expressed concerns about the plans to rebuild the Gurdwara in Headington, Oxford

Planning permission has been granted to demolish and rebuild a Gurdwara despite concerns from the Sikh community.

The Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, in Headington, Oxford, is the only Sikh place of worship in Oxfordshire.

Members of the Sikh community expressed concerns over the displacement of worshippers while the building work was going on.

Oxford City Council's Planning Review Committee unanimously approved the proposal.

The Gurdwara, in London Road, is currently in a former office building but owner Akash Turna plans to demolish it and rebuild a larger Gurdwara and a neighbouring apartment block with seven flats.

Image source, Akash Tuma
Image caption,
The new Gurdwara will have a new bigger kitchen, dining and prayer hall, alongside seven flats

But Dilpreet Dhanoa, speaking at the meeting on behalf of some worshippers, said: "This planning application was made without consulting the Gurdwara's executive committee and little to no thought has been given to where any temporary Gurdwara would be relocated.

"There is absolutely no guarantee for the community... the Gurdwara will be able to be put to proper use because you are effectively displacing an entirely community to then saying right 'you need to come back at this point'...

"The Gurdwara's and the Sikh community's ability to meet its day-to-day needs would be denied."

Councillor Mike Rowley highlighted some of the congregation's concerns over the possible proximity of alcohol and tobacco to the Gurdwara due to the seven flats to be built adjacent to place of worship .

The Sikh Council - a national body representing Sikhs in the UK - also raised concerns about the internal layout of the new Gurdwara, including the location of the Holy Scriptures.

Simon Sharp, agent for Mr Turna, said his client would find and pay for a temporary place for worshippers to meet.

In a letter to the Sikh Council Sukhdev Lalli, acting president of the Gurdwara, said: "The new plans offer a larger, more appropriate and more aesthetically pleasing space for a Gurdwara."

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