A derelict piece of land used as a 'dumping ground' can now be turned into 'a statement piece of architecture' for 7,500 members of a Muslim faith group.

Councillors have granted planning permission for the new Islamic religious education and worship centre on the outskirts of Blackburn town centre

The Bayt Muhammad Academy's new two-storey seminary and prayer hall will cater for followers of the Shafi'i Madhab section of the Muslim community.

It will be built on a piece of vacant land on the corner of Eleanor Street and Higher Audley Street.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's planning committee on Thursday night approved the scheme with 26 conditions, and a payment of £40,000 for a new pedestrian/cycle crossing across Higher Audley Street.

The proposed building would be the first such institution in the borough dedicated to serving ist 7,500-strong Shafi'i Madhab community.

Planning committee chair Cllr Dave Smith: "This is a piece of land that has been derelict and used as a dumping ground for years.

"It will be good to see it redeveloped."

The approved scheme involves the construction of a new two-storey religious education seminary for up to 150 students and 11 staff members.

A new ramped access point would be formed from Eleanor Street together with an undercroft parking area.

Borough planning manager Gavin Prescott told the meeting: "The proposals would form a statement piece of architecture owing to the use of a contemporary design and varied palette of external construction materials."

Councillors were told its students would be over 16 years old, with the majority expected to be aged between 16 and 22, with classes taking place between 5pm and 8pm with student arrivals spread over this period.

Classrooms, an auditorium/canteen and supporting facilities would be provided on the ground floor, with further classrooms and an assembly hall on the first floor.

The scheme also includes a first floor terrace.