Plans to demolish a Gurdwara in Oxford are being reconsidered by the city council despite being approved earlier this month.

Councillors voted in favour of the demolition of the Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara on London Road, Headington and the adjoining unit at Oxford City Council’s East Area Planning Committee on 2 September.

However, the owner of the neighbouring unit’s plan to replace the entire complex with seven flats and a new temple has been called in by Mike Rowley, city councillor for the Barton and Sandhills ward where the Gurdwara is located.

A ‘call in’ occurs when a councillor collects signatures from other councillors and presents them to the relevant committee because they feel as though a planning application has not been fully considered.

Mr Rowley said: “I called in the application both because of serious concerns expressed by members of the Sikh community about the future of the Gurdwara, which is the only one in Oxford and the surrounding districts, and because of my own concern about the potential impact of the development on local residents.

“The Gurdwara is a very valued part of the local community and as a local councillor I have a responsibility to make sure such important concerns are clearly and fully heard, without prejudice to the outcome.”

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Gurdip Saini, General Secretary of the Gurdwara’s Committee said: “The Sikh community is very shocked and worried at the news because the developers did not consult or even inform us of their plans. Over 500 families use this Gurdwara and our main concern is where we will pray temporarily since the nearest Gurdwara is over an hour away.

“We’re also aware that the developer has mentioned plans for a new Gurdwara to be built but we have not had anything confirmed in writing. We’re not sure whether it would be suitable for our requirements and would rather just be given our share of the building.”

Other worshippers, who have been visiting the Sri Guru Nanak Devi Ji Gurdwara since 2010 when they first moved into the abandoned office, were uncomfortable with the fact there may be drinking and smoking near the religious centre.

Planning agent, Simon Sharp said: “We’re aware of the needs of the community and have reached out and had dialogue with members of the committee to provide an improved facility.

“My client is not a commercial developer and a Sikh himself who visits the temple so it would also be in his own interests to build a purpose-built Gurdwara since the current building was never intended to be used as one.

“The possibility of creating an alternative provision is something which we are currently exploring but it has been difficult to hold public consultations recently because of covid-19.”

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Councillor Sian Taylor, Chair of the East Area Planning Committee said: “I’m fully aware and sympathetic to the needs of community and faith groups in the local area but unfortunately it’s not the function of the planning committee to arrange alternatives but rather the communities themselves.”

Residents of both London Road and nearby Northfield Road are also concerned that the combined noise from both the new flats and the Gurdwara will become overbearing.

A decision on whether the Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara will be knocked down is expected to be made within the next few weeks.