A MOSQUE could be on its way to Chipping Norton.

Tahirul Hasan, a Conservative member of Chipping Norton Town Council, hopes to convert a former shop in Hitchmans Mews, off West Street, into a mosque.

The town’s 30-strong Muslim community currently worships in the Town Hall on Fridays, but Mr Hasan said it was not a sacred enough place for prayer.

The father-of-three said: “We need a permanent place and we need a place where there is no drinking or dancing, only peaceful prayer.

“We hope the new mosque will be a more sacred place.”

If planning permission is granted, the new mosque would open between sunrise and one hour after sunset for prayers five times a day.

Mr Hasan said he did not plan to hold religious teaching and said the mosque would only be open for about 10 minutes at a time for the prayers.

The 46-year-old added: “I have lived in Chipping Norton for 24 years and our group of Muslims had to go to Banbury for their prayer.

“So one day, seven years ago, I decided to start Friday prayer and, after looking at every venue in the town, I found a place in the Town Hall.”

The group now welcomes Muslims from Moreton-in-Marsh, Woodstock and Witney, and has up to 50 worshippers at a time.

Two years ago, Mr Hasan also started a Friday prayer group at Chipping Norton School for its eight Muslim students.

He said it was important Chipping Norton had a mosque so the next generation did not lose their identity.

He said: “Our children do not know what a mosque is because they have never seen one.”

The Rev Canon Steve Weston, team rector of the Chipping Norton Benefice, said: “I think a mosque will fit in with Chipping Norton. We have a very tolerant community.”

The district council will decide on the change of use planning application on a date yet to be set.