PLANS to convert a pub, believed to be hundreds of years old, into an Islamic culture centre have been delayed due to concerns about noise and parking.

Basildon Council’s planners have been granted an extension of time to consider the proposals by South Essex Islamic Trust to develop the former Barge Inn, in High Road, Vange into the culture centre.

South Essex Islamic Trust purchased the inn and began fundraising for £250,000 to cover the full cost of the site.

A Basildon Council spokesman said: “No decision has been made on this application to date.

“Officers have requested further information from the applicant relating to noise and parking issues and are waiting for a response.

“An extension of time to determine this application has been agreed by the applicant’s agent until March 18.”

A spokesman on behalf of South Essex Islamic Trust said: “We are considering options and the matter is fluid.”

Former owner Geraldine Evans, 74, said the building must be opened as something which can be used by the whole community.

She said: “I can understand the concern from the council planners. There isn’t much parking there and that limits what they can do with the site.

“I just want to see it be used for the whole community.

“It is such an iconic building with such history and I think it’s a sin and heartbreaking to see it as it looks today.

“As long as it is reopened as something that benefits everyone I have no issues.”

Ms Evans’ family ran the pub for 70 years.

Borough historian Vin Harrop added: “I echo the concerns about parking, but it’s an issue everywhere. I am pleased with the community centre plans and think it should be given the go ahead.

“I am sure the people using the centre would be obliging and think the council should get on with it.”

The old pub was sold for £450,000 at auction by Savills in September, for more than double the £200,000 guide price.