COUNCILLORS have cleared the way for development on the old Blackburn Markets site – voting through the borough's so-called 'strategic growth strategy' for the next 12 months.

The plan earmarks several sites to be sold off – or handed over – for development, including land where the old market used to sit.

In September last year, it was reported a developer had come forward with proposals for a multi-million retail-led complex on the site of the former Blackburn Market.

It came 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.

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 year.

It was transformed into a temporary car park last year and was occasionally used for Sunday car boot sales.

Cllr Riley added: “As people recognise, we are in a period of significant growth within the borough and our intention is to keep that going.

“There is a list of potential sites owned by the council which is being worked on.

“Our preparation work investment fund has brought success in terms of sites like Alaska Street and Tower Road .

“That fund has now been put back to the original £250,000 because it will help us with some of the more difficult sites we own down the line.”

Among the other sites due to be disposed of during the coming financial year are employment land Blakewater Lodge,  Chapels Park in Darwen and Bridge House in Blackburn.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive board meeting also heard calls for better public transport links to enable young people to access jobs at any new employment sites.

Executive member for children, young people and education, Cllr Maureen Bateson, asked whether there would be the opportunity to help fund bus routes to aid young people who might struggle to get to work.

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But Cllr Phil Riley, the borough’s regeneration boss, said the council’s hands were tied.

He said: “It’s all market led these days and you would imagine that as we move people into new employment sites we will certainly take that to the bus companies.

“The problem is they want to make money – as you would expect.”