A PROPOSAL to set up a mosque in the iconic Trocadero building in Piccadilly Circus has led to debate, with some people arguing that the planned place of worship will alter the “overall character of the area”.
Muslim charity Aziz Foundation submitted an application to the Westminster City Council’s for establishing a “prayer space/mosque” in the Trocadero’s basement, which has been vacant since 2005.
The Trocadero is owned by Asif Aziz, a businessman who set up the foundation in 2015. He heads Criterion Capital, which is believed to “manage a £2-billion property portfolio across London and the south-east”.
According to the foundation, “The Piccadilly prayer space will cater to the needs of those Muslims in the area, in a similar way to prayer spaces at Selfridges, Westfields and Heathrow Airport.”
It added that the project would use less than 1.5 per cent of the total space of the Trocadero, which is home to shops, restaurants, nightclubs and the recently opened 740 bed Zedwell Hotel, and soon-to-open London’s largest rooftop bar with the capacity for 1,200 people.
“The prayer space’s interior design will take its inspiration from the rich heritage of the Muslim world,” the foundation said.
“It will offer a tranquil environment; a space for contemplation, reflection and prayer for all those who want to participate. In addition to the main prayer space, which will offer equal space to both male and female Muslims, there will be a contemplation room open to all, providing an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.”
Some opponents raised objections to the plan, arguing that the Trocadero was located “in the heart of an area which is dedicated to multi-cultural entertainment and tourism” and said the space should be maintained as a shopping hub.
One supporter said, “As a disabled Muslim who works in central London and a stone’s throw from the Trocadero, finding a mosque wherein which to pray that is accessible has been fraught with problems as it is always overcrowded in the smaller mosques.”
Another added: “I have lived in this area for over 30 years and there are hardly any Muslim prayer spaces around these areas especially for women. This is a much-needed space for the residents and all the Muslim visitors and tourists to this great area.”
By Monday (25) evening, the Westminster council website had 2,253 posts in support of the plan, and 1,979 against it. The consultation will end on Thursday.