A NEW mosque will provide a base for Horley's Islamic community – ending more than a decade of searching for a home.
The Gatwick Bangladeshi Islamic Community Association is celebrating opening its new centre, having moved round various halls for the past 11 years.
The facility, at the end of Horley High Street, is still being developed but the group hopes it will eventually provide a hub for the whole community.
Association president Abdul Kalam Azad Suton said: "We are very pleased to have a place. We have used so many places.
"When people know there is a mosque here, they will come.
"Gatwick is renowned and we thought 'why not?', but the job is still going on to develop here."
Since they were founded in 2000, the group has held prayer meetings in various halls around the town, including Albert Halls in Albert Road and the old Court Lodge Primary School in Court Lodge Road. But the uncertainty of rented halls provided problems for the group's prayer times.
Association member Moslandar Ali said: "It's been 11 years and we've been almost like refugees, going from here to there. With rented halls, sometimes you can't get the halls for prayer.
"After a long time, we are past that period."
The building currently has an upstairs hall, serving as a prayer room, with office space below being developed.
There is a community of around 15 or 16 Muslim houses in Horley, but the group attracts worshippers from Merstham, Redhill, Reigate, Crawley and Lingfield.
With Arabic classes and a weekly Friday fair on offer, they say finding a permanent home is a vital step for them.
Mr Suton said: "Now we've got a permanent place, we don't have to shift everything around. The permanent place for worship is here."
He praised the help the group have received from both Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and Horley Town council.
Horley Mayor Simon Marshall welcomed the centre.
He said: "They have been trying to find a home for a while. I think it's good for the town. It brings even more to Horley."