Members of Inverness’ Muslim community could have a new home for their mosque within weeks as they are in the process of acquiring the old Portland Club building.
A new "eco-friendly" mosque is proposed by the Inverness Masjid Association (IMA) for the site on Portland Place, where it hopes to move from its current base at the Northern Meeting Park in Ardross Street.
The Portland Club is a former home of Rangers’ supporters club Inverness True Blues and was closed last year after acquiring debts of £270,000, due to unpaid taxes and mortgage payments.
The IMA wants to create Scotland’s first eco-friendly mosque and have consulted with charity Keep Scotland Beautiful on how to make the building as environmentally-friendly as possible.
Members were told of the plans at Sunday’s Eid-al-Adha celebrations — the global muslim festival of the sacrifice — at the city’s Craigmonie Hotel.
Mohammed Idris(38), a local GP and member of the mosque, said the community was pleased to have found itself a new home.
"It’s an exciting time for us finding a new building," he said. "We told the community at the weekend about our plans and it has taken us five years to save money for it. Muhammad teaches us about keeping the Earth green and we want to do our bit, so we want to install solar panels, make sure the building is energy efficient and hopefully in the future, start to grow our own produce. Hopefully a new building will bring us closer to other communities in the city."
Dr Idris, of Woodlands Crescent, Westhill, also hopes the new mosque can make use of recycled products while also minimising its water usage. Renovations to the property are expected to cost between £20,000 and £30,000.
The mosque has had trouble finding a permanent home in the past and had planning permission rejected for a site in Kenneth Street in April this year after it was found that bats may have been be nesting in the property.
The mosque’s secretary Dr Waheed Khan (50), of Ballifeary Lane, said the paperwork was "99per cent done" on the purchasing the building but there were still some fine details to be tied up. "We haven’t lodged planning permission with the council yet for a change of use," he said. "The building in its current state has a rock-bottom energy rating and there’s no electricity. But we have been looking for a new site for some time and there is enough demand to make a mosque part of the community."
The Inverness True Blues was initially formed in 1960 and was a Highland stronghold for ‘Gers fans. The group would run buses to every home game and also chartered a flight to Barcelona for a Champions League fixture in 2007.