A DEVELOPER has come forward with proposals for a multi-million retail-led complex on the site of the former Blackburn Market, the Lancashire Telegraph can reveal today.

The news a commercial firm is interested in regenerating the town centre four-acre plot of land, currently car parks, with shops, comes as surprise after the recent problems of major store chains.

It comes two years after Blackburn with Darwen Council abandoned is proposals for a high-quality retail development on the site, between the new bus station and Gala Bingo, because of the downturn.

Borough regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: “We have been approached by a developer interested in the site proposing a high-quality retail-led development.

“We would anticipate any development would run into millions of pounds and would be an important piece in the jigsaw of Blackburn town centre regeneration.,

“We are very encouraged by the fact that a commercial operator would be interested in redeveloping this site.

“It is particularly encouraging that they are interested in Blackburn town centre after a period of such hard times for the retail sector.

“We are now starting an informal tender exercise in the light of this to see if there is any other interest in the site from the market.”

The old market, demolished in 2013, is one of six key development sites identified as vital for the regeneration of Blackburn town centre in a planning blueprint published last month.

News of the interest has delighted council bosses who in 2016 opted to turn the site into a car park and leisure space, hosting circuses and other events, after three years of fruitless searching for a development partner.

Tony Duckworth, president of Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade, said: “This is excellent and unexpected news. It is a feather in the cap of the council that they have attracted interest from a commercial developer in the light of the current problems of the retail sector.”

Last month’s planning document proposed a mix of retail, residential, offices, land leisure uses alongside restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars as the preferred option for the site.

It suggested any regeneration could help link together the bus station and Mall with the soon-to-be vacant Thwaites Brewery site and the Cathedral Square development.

The council executive decision launching the tender exercise was being published today.