A PLAN for an Islamic prayer centre and community hall has been given the go-ahead by councillors.

Members of Barrow’s Council’s planning committee approved proposals for the new community hall in Dalton.

The application was approved despite concerns over parking and wildlife issues on the Crooklands Brow site.

Dalton Town Council voted to object to the plans at a meeting attended by more than 100 residents.

Objections included parking problems, the lack of use of the land for employment, and possible sightings of badger setts in the area.

But founders of the South Lakes Islamic Centre, the charity behind the plans, told the planning committee the new hall would be a vital space for Muslims in the area.

Dr Anas Olabi, who works at Furness General Hospital, said: “I am a Muslim. Furness General Hospital has given us a small room to pray in for years.

“This isn’t sufficient for weddings or funerals.

“It’s not suitable for 20 or 30 children.

“Diversity gives strength and stability to the community.

“It improves economics.

“One room in a hospital is not enough.

“We don’t like to call it an Islamic centre, it’s a centre for everyone. Everyone and anyone is welcome.”

Resident Glenn Higgins, who objected to the plans, said: “To say the building is not feasible for employment is inaccurate.

“If this is approved, there will be a dangerous precedent set for future allocated sites.

“There’s a conflict with national and local policy, issue with biodiversity, local flood authorities, national rail and more.”

Cllr Bill McEwan said: “Whether it was an industrial site or prayer centre, there would still be the same problem with parking.

“The access is wide enough for the road.

"After a site visit, no one parked on the road. aCumbria County Council should reduce the speed limit on the road.”

The proposals were recommended for approval by the council’s planning officers.

The proposed development has proved controversial with far-right campaigners writing letters objecting to the plans, most of them on racial grounds.