PLANS to replace a former social club gutted by fire with a plumber’s merchants were approved despite planning officer's recommendations.

Great Harwood Plumbing Merchants was granted permission to build new premises at the former Grand Club in Blackburn Road in the town but Hyndburn Council’s planning committee had been urged to refuse permission.

The site is vacant following the demolition of the club, which was gutted by a fire in 2014.

The business will move from its base in St Hubert’s Road and construct a new building to accommodate a new plumbing centre.

Lancashire County Council’s highways department had objected to the proposed application due to the poor access to the site, including how HGVs will use it.

But committee chairman Cllr Eamonn Higgins said the objection was "a little bit Mickey Mouse".

And Great Harwood councillor Gareth Molyneux said the owner had confirmed he would not accept any deliveries from vehicles above 3.5 tonnes and had held discussions with suppliers to make sure this was possible.

Highways bosses also say there would also be insufficient car parking provision but members heard staff at the centre would not use any of the six proposed spaces.

Council leader, Cllr Miles Parkinson said: "Those who know Great Harwood will realise this site has been neglected for many years back to when it was previously a cinema

"It was the standing joke in Great Harwood that the Grand Club was not a grand place to go.

"We have not got many investors coming forward to develop the site because of viability.

"If this person does not invest, it is unlikely anyone else will step in.

"I strongly believe this needs approving because otherwise the site will be left vacant at the detriment of Great Harwood."

Committee members had voiced concerns about safety concerns given there is a pelican crossing next to the site which is used by schoolchildren.

But Cllr Molyneux said the reality was that the crossing was not frequently used and should not be seen as a reason to deny planning permission.

Members voted to approve the development and concluded the benefits of the development outweighed the concerns regarding highways safety.