BLACKBURN MP Jack Straw has welcomed a decision by John Lewis to pull the plug on a massive department store at the centre of Preston’s Tithebarn development.

The retail giant’s decision to pull out of the deal has scuppered plans to revamp Preston town centre under a £700million scheme.

Blackburn with Darwen Council challenged ministers’ decision to award planning permission to scheme, which was the subject of a multi-million pound public inquiry in 2010.

Mr Straw said: “I am not surprised that John Lewis has pulled out because it would have been years before they could have started, since a condition of the planning permission was vastly improved road schemes and public transport schemes. Preston is gridlocked on Saturdays and during rush hours.

“By backing this grandiose scheme, Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council have cost boroughs elsewhere in Lancashire hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal costs to fight the application.”