Plan to turn Telford office building into Sikh temple sparks backlash

A three-storey office building in Telford could be transformed into a Sikh Temple if plans are approved.

The application could see Abbey House transformed to a Sikh temple. Photo: Telford & Wrekin Council.
The application could see Abbey House transformed to a Sikh temple. Photo: Telford & Wrekin Council.

A representative from the Sikh temple Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara has lodged an application with Telford & Wrekin Council to change Abbey House in Priorslee to a place of worship.

But some members of the current gurdwara in Oakengates have hit out at the move and want to stay put.

The Priorslee building, on Whitechapel Way, was until two years ago, leased by the council to HMRC. It was built in 1990, and provides 28,886 sq ft of space.

The application asks for the council to consider changing the use of the site from a commercial premises to a place of worship.

In the application, Inderjit Singh Gill said: "The intention is to use this building as a place of worship for the Sikh Community in Shropshire and surrounding areas.

Proposals could see worshippers move from the gurdwara in Oakengates. Photo: Andrew Dixon & Company.

"There will be a priest living on-site, a kitchen and community facilities for worship and improvement of well-being."

The current gurdwara for worshippers, on Church Parade, in Oakengates, is currently up for sale. It covers 6,573 sq ft, less than a quarter of the size of Abbey House.

The proposal and potential move has caused some controversy, with the application attracting over a dozen objections from within the Sikh community.

Some were left stumped by the decision.

Sukhjit Singh said: "The one in Oakengates is fully sustainable and has been for many years. It’s taken over 30 years of hard work.

"The current property is freehold and the new proposed property is only a leasehold which will cost so much to run, it is our family temple that we have used since being born - we do not want it to get shut or moved."

Others spoke of the cost of living crisis, traffic and transportation issues.

Mrs Mohinder Kaur said: "I have been attending Oakengates Gurdwara for the last 30 years plus, which is nearer for me with public transport. I'm elderly and I feel I will not be able to attend new place of worship."

Support has come from a couple of residents, with Kuldeep Singh saying the move would create "a beautiful Gurdwara for the Sikh people of Shropshire and beyond".

Sharam Margey said it was "shocking" to see so much disapproval for the larger Gurdwara.

The application is open until February 1, application number TWC/2022/0898.

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