A DEAL has been reached for work to begin on a much-delayed £4m east Reading mosque.

The Green Road mosque, set to be built at the junction with Wokingham Road, has been in the planning stages for more than five years and a dream for 10, but this week Reading Borough Council agreed to lease the site for 125 years.

The mosque will be paid for by donations, not public money, and the current Alexandra Road mosque will be turned back into housing.

Council documents show the new mosque must be built by March 28, 2012, or the lease will be forfeited and the land will go to another community group. The council is giving the lease on the land, worth £500,000, for free but argues it is value for money because building a community facility itself would cost far more.

Mian Saleem, chairman of the Pakistan Community Centre (PCC), said: 'This is great news for all of Reading"s Muslim community. Everyone is very pleased.

'We are thankful to Reading Borough Council and the management committees of South Street Mosque and Alexandra Road Mosque.'

The site got planning approval in October 2007, and terms were agreed last March.

The mosque will have a silver dome and feature a prayer house, washing room, a library, conference room, male and female classrooms, a meeting centre for older people and parking. Increased traffic in the area, which is often already very congested thanks to the nearby shopping parade and Alfred Sutton School, worries some neighbours.

But Green Road itself is now closed off at its junction with Wokingham Road - eliminating the potentially major problem of through traffic

Council leader Jo Lovelock said: 'I am pleased that all the issues regarding this lease have now been agreed and the Muslim community can now begin to raise money for the mosque. I very much hope we can see the new building being built as soon as possible.'