AMBITIOUS plans to turn a vacant former coach works into a £10million shopping centre for Asian weddings and fashion have been unveiled.

An application has been submitted to Blackburn with Darwen Council proposing to transform the old East Lancashire Coach Works site in Whalley New Road, Blackburn, which has been empty for more than 15 years.

The proposal will be the first phase of a series of developments – to be followed by a festival space, banquet hall and restaurant.

Developer Emaar Ltd bosses say the vision is to create an 'elegant and cultural' retail space that will attract visitors from surrounding towns and further afield for exclusive wedding shopping.

The proposed 5,000 square metre mall comprises 22 retail units along an internal covered street which leads onto a ground floor food court that has seven smaller units and a further restaurant on the upper floor.

An Emaar spokesman said: “The scheme is on the site of a former bus depot that has been derelict for over 15 years.

“The retail-led regeneration of the site will bring about a renewed vibrancy within the area.

“The site is situated along a prominent route and has been earmarked by Blackburn with Darwen Council as a location that needs to be redeveloped for alternative use.

“The proposal seeks to address this issue, underpinning a thriving Asian community shopping destination which is already ‘on the map’, drawing people from both the local area and the wider Asian community from further afield.”

Bosses say the centre would help create 100 jobs with people required to manage the serviced facility including security and parking management, as well as further jobs created by each of the retail units.

Emaar is also seeking outline approval for phases two and three of the proposed development, which would include a banqueting hall and a further restaurant.

The scheme includes 137 parking spaces, included nine disabled bays.

It is envisaged the food court would open late into the evening long after the shops close.

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Executive member for growth and development, Cllr Phil Riley, said: “It’s a piece of land in private ownership and we have been very keen to see something happen there.

“We have been working with the owner to bring forward a scheme that would add value to the town but won’t compete with the town centre – we want to complement it.

“We want to see that land back in use. It initially had planning permission for housing a number of years ago but the owner feels he can do better than that and now there’s this idea of an Asian mall.

“The idea is to offer goods and a market place not available anywhere else in the town.

“There’s quite a lot of parking space included as well.

“We want to see the best for the town and the landowner is a Blackburnian who has got the town’s best interests at heart.”