A NEWPORT councillor is concerned alterations to a former church and listed building could mean the loss of an important war memorial.

Cabinet member for resources, Peter Davies, has raised concerns after The Islamic Society for Gwent applied to make internal alterations to the Grade II listed former United Reformed Church on Victoria Road in Newport.

The building was used as a church for 149 years until August 2007.

The Irish ash interior was designed by Alfred Swash and carved by Mageson of Bristol as a First World War memorial.

The pews, pulpit and communion table are part of this memorial.

The Argus reported last year on how the Islamic Society for Gwent bought the building for more than £300,000 to use as a mosque and a community centre.

The proposed alterations submitted to Newport city council include the relocation of pews, the covering of stained glass windows with panelling, the relocation of some stained glass panels to other areas of the church, the creation of a level floor area in part of the church and the installation of a partition.

Cllr Davies said he is against the removal of the war memorial and it is important this is kept.

He said there are other chapels and other places in the city where the memorial could be moved to.

The application has been recommended for approval subject to certain conditions.

This includes that plans for the replacement of the stained glass window between the chapel and hallway is approved by the council and that the Society stores the internal fixtures within the building until a detailed scheme for their reuse has been agreed.

The council’s conservation officer said the proposed alterations would ensure the long term use of the building and that the impact on the building is minimal.

The Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales described the proposals as “sympathetic” but said a photographic record of the building must be made before any alterations go ahead.

Cllr Davies requested that the Society’s application is decided by the council’s planning committee which will meet on Wednesday, July 8.

PANEL Secretary of the Islamic Society for Gwent, Mubarak Ali, said they will not be knocking down the building’s walls.

He said the society will not be taking the stained glass windows down but will be placing a frosted glass over them.

He said there will be very little major alterations to what he said is a “lovely building.”

Mr Ali said if the council can think of a good use for the pews this would be welcomed as it would put them to good use and free up space in the building.