A BAR is set to be turned into a new town centre restaurant.

The former Esco-Bar in Darwen will be converted into an Italian restaurant in The Green, after the previous owners leased the property to another tenant following the murder of a 23-year-old man outside the bar.

Signs have been put up on the shutters of the former bar publicising the opening of the new Italian diner, which is located just metres away from another restaurant, Essence Mediterranean Restaurant and Bar.

The sign does not reveal the official opening date or the name of the diner.

The new diner will be the fourth Italian restaurant based within a mile radius of each other in Darwen town centre, alongside Essence, Massimo’s Original Italian Food and Godfather Pizza House.

Plans to open the new restaurant come just six months after Jason Taylor, from Darwen, was stabbed outside the bar and later died from his injuries in the early hours of January 28.

Some concerns have been raised by neighbouring businesses and councillors over the prospect of another Italian restaurant in the town centre. Gary Perkins, owner of Taps Bar, in Railway Road, said: “I’m up for new businesses coming in but another Italian is a bit much. The restaurant - Essence - is just a stone's throw away.”

Roy Davies, the mayor of Darwen Town Council, said: “We want to encourage new businesses to come into Darwen but do we need another restaurant?”

However other business owners welcomed the plans.

Leon Kelly, owner of the neighbouring Level One Live, said: “I’m supportive of any business opening up in Darwen. It’s good for the town.

"If people want an Italian they will come to the town. It’s fantastic.”

Gary Smith, manager of The Bridgewater, said: “New businesses are always welcome. The more the merrier.”