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Councillors at Cambridge City Council’s planning committee supported the plans for a two-storey extension to the back of the Shah Jalal Islamic Centre, on Darwin Drive, despite a planning officer’s recommendation for refusal and some neighbours’ concerns.

The extension will create a separate prayer space for men and women. The applicants sought for an increase in the number of people who can use the centre from 20 to 29 daily and 37 on a Friday afternoon, along with an extension to the opening hours to 11pm and a 30-minute opening for morning prayer between 2.50am and 6.30am.

The applicants said the local Muslim community had “grown” considerably over the last two years.

“There is a growing demand from the local community to expand the premises to accommodate female visitors and improve access for people with disabilities,” they said,

A mosque representative told councillors the proposals would allow the centre, which is funded by local residents, to provide classes for young people.

He said the mosque feels it is an “integral part” of the wider community, having operated a food bank, and carried out litter picking in the area.

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