AN illegal mosque has been given six months to close after a planning inspector threw out an appeal for retrospective planning permission.

The mosque, which has been operating in an old bungalow in Fairfax Drive, Westcliff, for the past two years, has been attended by up to 150 people at a time.

However, planning inspector Felix Bourne threw out the appeal by Jaafriya Islamic Centre, made after Southend Council issued enforcement notices ordering them to shut down the mosque by this February.

During the appeal Southend Council suggested several other sites for a Shia muslim mosque, including the £800,000 New Empire Hotel, in Alexandra Street, Southend.

Martin Terry, Independent Group leader at the council, said: “I am delighted with the outcome as this is the right decision.

“It is the wrong location and should not be there. But the compliance time is too long.

“In six months there could be time to appeal to the High Court and it could just go on and on and meanwhile residents are suffering.”

Paul Collins, Lib Dem councillor for Westborough ward, added: “At long last the inspector has upheld the enforcement action against the owners.

“Residents have endured disturbance for too long, and I do urge the owners to talk to the council about alternative suitable property.”

Residents claim the amount of people regularly using the mosque has led to increased traffic and parking problems, noise at night and large amounts of black refuse sacks being left out.

A neighbouring businessman, who would not be named, said in recent weeks it had been used day and night, with people crammed in at weekends.

He said: “It’s good that it has been turned down, but will that be the end of it or are we just going to see them appeal?”

The mosque was set up without planning permission. Mr Bourne rejected the appeal against the enforcement notices and for retrospective planning permission for the extension.

Nasser Hussain, 56, head trustee of the centre, said: “What we need to do is read through the report properly and make sense of it and then speak to our architect about where we go from here.”