PLANS to turn a vacant retail unit into a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses have been approved.

Eden District Council has given the go-ahead for The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Britain’s proposal for the half-acre site, on the A66, Coupland Beck, in Appleby.

According to the design and access statement: “The proposal is located adjacent a residential property.

“The area is open rural farmland with just a handful of houses.

“These comprise generally of two storey stone homes, render and rough cast walls under, generally, a slate roof.”

It also stated: “The local congregation was established in the mid 1950’s and has steadily grown since then to approximately 75.

“At present they meet in the township of Bongate where their present hall has undergone several alterations to cater for the growing numbers.

“They have been advised by the professional consultants that their needs would be better served by moving into the proposed building where level access, space for improved and additional facilities can be incorporated, together with energy efficiencies.

“The congregation will be in a better position to cater for the spiritual needs of the community.”

A spokesman for the organisation said: “We are constantly reviewing local circumstances to see whether we can provide more modern and accessible meeting places, where this is possible.

“We are happy the application’s been approved and are hopeful that the project will be successful."

The spokesman continued: “It’s at an early stage, there remains some important matters to be considered.”