A ROW has broken out over plans to open a new food shop on the site of a former mill.

Heron Foods is preparing to open a new store on the former Pioneer Mill site in New Wellington Street, Blackburn.

But objections were received from representatives of a nearby Spar store who say their business will be hit if the development goes ahead.

The Spar on New Chapel Street, across the street from the proposed site of the Heron Foods development, has been in the area for more than 30 years.

They say because Mill Hill and the surrounding area is one of the most deprived parts of the borough, there is not demand for two convenience stores so close to each other.

Despite reservations, Blackburn with Darwen Council senior planning officer Alec Hickey has recommended the development be given the green light.

The outcome of the application will be determined at a planning and highways committee meeting next week.

A statement submitted as part of the objection says: “It is clear that the applicant’s consultant has applied a set of assumptions to support the desired outcome in favour of the proposals and furthermore, has sought to modify that approach in light of our objection.

“An independent assessment is clearly needed.

“Additionally, as our client has continuously operated and continually improved and invested in an independent family-run business that has anchored the viability and vitality of the Mill Hill district centre for over 30 years, we consider that the Heron planning application should be given full and proper consideration by members of the planning and highways committee.”

In a report to go before the committee, Mr Hickey said: “Given the detailed objection received on the potential impact on the vitality and viability of the Mill Hill district centre, an independent retail review was also commissioned to ensure officers make a justified recommendation and, where necessary, robustly justify the granting of permission.

“The findings of the independent review of support the conclusions of officers in that the principle of development is acceptable.

“Some trade will also be drawn from within Mill Hill district centre itself from the existing Spar.

“This store is not identified within the retail study as a location where significant amounts of trade is drawn, but there will be some diversion as there will inevitably be an overlap in terms of convenience goods being sold, although there will be some differences given the different operators.”

“Overall the trade drawn from the Spar will be located to an edge of centre site, but coupled with the level of trade clawed back to the centre should overall be seen as positive for Mill Hill district centre.