WORK on the biggest Hindu temple in the South East is set to start at the end of the year after Crawley Council granted planning permission on Monday.
More than 70 members of the Gurjar Hindu Union in Crawley attended the planning committee meeting which granted the development at Apple Tree Farm, Ifield, for the first Sanatan Mandir and community centre in the area.
GHU Trustee, Ashwin Soni, said: "We are extremely pleased to have finally received planning permission.
"This now allows us to begin construction of the temple this year with completion expected next year."
The centre is designed to cater for the whole community and includes a 230sqm temple, a 1216sqm community centre and 250 parking spaces.
Architects, Sompura, based in Ahemdabad are working on the project which should feature a carving in Indian marble.
Land for the 3.5million project has been purchased from the council but the union still needs to raise around 1.5million to complete it.
GHU member, Bharat Lukka said: "We were granted planning permission in 2001 but we didn't have the money to finish it and after five years the application expires.
"There are 900 Hindu families in Crawley and we've asked each of them to donate 1 a day to help us reach our target.
"We've also applied for planning permission to build 10 to 12 flats on the land to generate about 1million to help raise the extra cash."
Some letters of concern were received by the council which the GHU claim have all been addressed.
Ashwin Soni said: "We appreciate their worries and where possible will aim to mitigate them in the design of the centre; we wish to be good neighbours in the community."
The GHU was formed in 1968 as a networking group to help provide its members with moral and spiritual support.
This enabled the members to take an active role in the community at large, make friends and at the same time maintain their ethnic identity.
The GHU have organised a festival of peace, harmony and progress at Bewbush Leisure Centre fields from July 14 to 23 by world renowned Hindu saint Shree Rameshbhai oza.