CONTROVERSIAL plans for an Islamic community centre in Clacton have been granted by a planning inspector.

Tendring Islamic Cultural Association will now be allowed to convert the former Harmony beauty salon, in Pier Avenue, into an education and prayer centre.

Blueprints were rejected by Tendring Council last year, but that decision has now been overturned by a planning inspector after the group appealed against the decision.

The council argued that turning the building into a community centre would rob Pier Avenue of a much-needed shop site.

Pier ward councillor Paul Honeywood said residents felt their views had been ignored.

The plans will see the ground floor converted into two classrooms, with the rest of the building used as an office for the day-to-day running of the centre.

Planning inspector Christine Thorby said: “The council are concerned that this is a key gateway into Clacton where activity is to be encouraged and where loss of retail and its replacement with a community use would undermine its commercial function.

“However, national planning policies, in seeking to ensure the vitality of town centres and helping them to fulfil their role as the heart of a community, identifies community uses as part of a range of development that should be sited within a town centre to meet local need.

“A cultural and community centre would undoubtedly bring people into the town centre.”