AN eyesore town-centre pub has been sold and is to be redeveloped as a gourmet burger restaurant.

A West Yorkshire businessman has bought the dilapidated Pitchers bar in Salford, Blackburn, for more than £200,000 and his new up-market eaterie will create 25 jobs.

It is understood the building will be transformed into 'Frankies Burgers and Dessert Parlour' and could reopen later this year.

Pitchers closed in December 2010 and had become a blight on the regeneration of the town centre as the new £5 million bus station opposite and the £35 million Cathedral Quarter rose around it.

After failing to reach its reserve price of £250,000 at auction in December, it was sold privately by estate agents Trevor Dawson for a value believed to be close to the highest offer of £230,000.

Senior partner Caroline James said the former pub would be a redeveloped as a restaurant, adding its sale was ‘good news’ for the town centre.

She said: "Situated in the heart of the massive regeneration that the town centre is enjoying, with the £30 million Cathedral Quarter development, new bus station and revitalised food and drink offer, this is further good news.

“We had a great deal of interest and are delighted that the property has now been sold.”

A statement from the buyer said: "An established food operator from West Yorkshire has acquired the former Pitchers Bar in the town centre and intends to refurbish the building for their own brand, Frankies Burgers and Dessert Parlour.

“Operating since 2016 and averaging 1,000 meals a day, the expansion into Blackburn will create 25 job opportunities."

Turning the building into a restaurant would set the seal on the borough council’s 2013 ambition to bring at least five new food establishments to Blackburn town centre.

Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: “This is great news. Pitchers had become an ugly eyesore.

“There was understandable scepticism when we announced our aim of five new restaurants for Blackburn town centre but we are now on track to exceed that ambition.”

Tony Duckworth, president of Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade, said: “It’s brilliant. Pitchers had become an eyesore.

“Blackburn town centre is now becoming a restaurant destination. I just hope they can all prosper.”

Cllr John Slater, leader of the borough council Conservative group, said: “It is excellent news that this eyesore will become another restaurant in Blackburn town centre.”

"Pitchers' redevelopment is something we all wanted to see. This venture will be a major addition to Blackburn town centre’s evening economy.”

The two-storey brick building, one of the few vacant freehold sites in the town centre, had become dilapidated and run down over the eight years since it closed and was considered a blight on the £40 million regeneration of the central retail and leisure area.

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Trevor Dawson sold the building on behalf of two Manchester businessmen, who bought the property soon after it was shut by Admiral Taverns, with a covenant preventing it reopening as a pub.

It has a ground floor with bar, function room and nightclub. The first floor has an office, kitchen, four further rooms and a bathroom.

The Lancashire Telegraph was allowed into the premises last year to capture the state of disrepair.

In the last five years, Blackburn town centre has seen the arrival of Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay, Italian A Mano, Café Northcote, and Premier Inn's Thyme Restaurant in the town's Cathedral Quarter.

Nando’s opened on the Peel Retail and Leisure Park behind the railway station, while Italian restaurant Gioia has opened on Church Street.

Former market stall Hugo Burrito also launched as a new Mexican bar and restaurant in Northgate.

There are also plans for well-known Indian restaurant chain east Z east to move into the former Blakey’s Bar in King George’s Hall.