A RESTAURANT over-looking the River Darwen could form part of a major new business centre ear-marked for the outskirts of Blackburn.

Developer Homeland Holdings has lodged an application to build offices, a fitness suite, a cafe and conference space at a vacant 72,000sq ft site off Riversway Drive, in Lower Darwen.

The proposals, for land opposite the Premier Inn near junction four of the M65, would provide ‘an excellent and attractive venue of significance for the region’ and provide 100 construction jobs, Home-land said.

Previous plans to build on the site were refused by Blackburn with Darwen Council in July 2009, when planning chiefs cited an ‘unsympathetic design’ and lack of ecological information as reasons for rejecting the project.

But Homeland says it has addressed those concerns with its revised plans.

In a design and access statement, the firm said: “The development aims to provide a first class, well-designed office and conferencing facility – a venue for meetings and training.

In-house leisure facilities will be available only to site employees.

“The applicant’s vision is to promote a development which not only serves a gap in local and regional provision, but also creates a high-quality architect-ural landscape that will be a flagship development within the wider develop-ment zone, attracting in-dividuals and businesses from across the region.”

If the scheme is given the go-ahead, measures will also be undertaken to reinforce the banks of the River Darwen using blocks of masonry.

The developer added: “The M65 corridor has now established as an economic zone attracting investment and new businesses, with six strategic employment zones.

“This project would complement the town centre renaissance and place Darwen and Black-burn at the heart of the marketing strategy for the M65 corridor.”