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Empty Blackburn lap-dance club faces bulldozer
PLANS to demolish the former Velvet Lounge, briefly Blackburn’s only naked lap-dancing club, will be debated by councillors on Thursday.
Blackburn with Darwen Council wants to buy the freehold of the vacant and semi-derelict premises in Duke Street and seven neighbouring business units to knock down the lot.
It will then turn the land into a temporary car park with a view to future development of the town centre site.
The Velvet Lounge closed in March 2005, just five months after winning a legal battle allowing dancers to go fully nude.
The club opened in July 2003, despite opposition from the clergy and councillors who felt the venue would demean women and the town’s image, and in September 2004 won the right to let dancers go nude.
In 2009, the borough acquired a long lease on the premises and car park as part of wider regeneration proposals for the former Telephone House site in Duke Street.
Plan for a new court house on the site failed to materialise.
Instead the £21million Barbara Castle Way Health Centre with 121 clinical rooms and around 250 health care workers was built on adjoining land in Simmons Street. It opened in uutumn 2011.
In September last year, the council moved the headquarters for its public health, children’s and adults social care services to the Telephone House site from the Exchange Building.
In 2011 the council almost bought the Velvet Lounge freehold but the deal fell through over the price.
At Thursday’s council executive board, borough finance chief Andy Kay will propose to buy the former lap dancing club premises outright and the business units at 1 to 7 Simmons Street. Coun Kay believes a value for money deal can now be secured for the remainder of the site. He said the ‘semi-derelict’ and ‘vandalised’ former club was having a ‘blighting effect’ on the neighbouring redeveloped properties.
Coun Kay proposes to use the cleared site for temporary car parking till long-term redevelopment proposals have been agreed. He said the proposed purchase would be ‘a key acquisition both in terms of securing the future of the Velvet Lounge complex and assembling a site for future development.’