NEIGHBOURS are delighted an illegal mosque has been closed down after a four-year battle.
Workmen have finally begun converting the Jaafriya Islamic Welfare Centre, which saw up 150 people cram into an old bungalow in Fairfax Drive, back into a residential property after a legal wrangle.
Martin Terry, Independent councillor for Westborough, said: “It has been a long battle, but I’m glad they are finally doing what they should have done in the first place.
“I hope they can find a successful and appropriate place for it elsewhere.
“I’m happy the residents can get some peace and quiet.”
A wrecking crew was on site yesterday knocking down a huge rear extension the owners built without planning permission as a hall for worshippers.
Workmen must also change the building, which had separate toilets for men and women and was used to teach children and hold services, back into dwelling.
The bungalowwill then be sold as the Shia Muslims look for a new centre.
Planning officers met the owner, who insists no services have been held there since December 23, to thrash out what work is needed a fortnight ago.
Paul Collins, Lib Dem councillor for Westborough, said: “It is reasonable to assume the building work being carried out is in line with these plans.
“It has taken nearly four years to have this disturbance for residents stopped and I wish the owners good fortune for finding a more suitable building.”
Southend Council has received hundreds of complaints about noise, parking and rubbish since the group began using the bungalow as a place of worship without planning permission in 2010.
Nasser Hussein, chairman of the centre, said: “We haven’t been a problem to anyone. The council says there have been 200 complaints, but there aren’t 200 houses around here.
“We could have made another appeal, but it would have gone on and on. That’s not the way out.
“We are doing it up and we are going to sell it.”