A “SUBSTANTIAL increase” in Blackburn’s Muslim population and the rise of Netflix have been cited as factors in the decline of pubs in the borough.

The claim was made in a supporting statement lodged with Blackburn with Darwen Council for revised plans to turn the former Hamilton Arms in Hollin Street, Blackburn, into flats.

Plans were submitted last year to convert the pub into seven flats but now developers have scaled back proposals and are looking to create five new flats.

The statement reads: “Although over the last decade or two the pubs have become more family friendly thus slowing the rate of decline in pub closures however the decline is still rising.

“Furthermore people are spending more time in their homes as the technology and environment at home is more comfortable than it ever was.

“Streaming Netflix and drinking cheaper supermarket booze at home is on the rise and a lot of the younger generation nowadays like to keep fit so drinking alcohol is not seen as cool.

“Blackburn is no exception to the UK trend of declining pubs and over the years it has lost over 200 pubs.

“Another factor, perhaps unique to Blackburn is the substantial increase of Muslim population residing in Blackburn and vast majority of whom for religious/traditional reasons do not drink alcohol in pubs.”

Despite the claim, census figures showed Blackburn's population in 2001 was 137,470, 25.9 per cent of which was made up of Muslims.

And in the latest 2011 census, the borough's population rose to 147,489 but the percentage of Muslims only increased to 27 per cent (about 40,000).

The pub was put up for sale by Admiral Taverns in March 2017 and closed for business later that year.

It has remained empty since then and has been vandalised despite metal shutters being fitted to doors and windows, leaving the building in a dilapidated state.

But it was sold to a developer in June with the intention of converting it to flats because the feasibility of reopening it as a pub was considered unviable.

Proposals put forward are for three one-bedroom flats and two two-bedroom flats with three car parking spaces included as part of the development.