PLANS to turn a former Blackburn tax office into dozens of flats can go ahead.

Proposals by Empire Property Concepts, who last year converted the old Lancashire Telegraph offices into apartments, to convert Customs House in Blackburn into 37 flats have been given the green light by Blackburn with Darwen Council planners.

The Doncaster-based firm had applied for prior approval for the change of use of the building from offices to flats, as well as planning permission for minor external alterations to the building in Chaucers Walk and both applications have been approved.

Bosses at Empire are also waiting on a decision over an application proposing to convert the final part of the former Lancashire Telegraph site - the old printing press and warehouse - into a further 13 flats.

The firm has already spent £2.6 million converting the main building into 74 flats.

Borough planning officer Nick Blackledge said: "The application site comprises a redundant part two, part single storey office building which was previously occupied by HM Revenue and Customs.

"59 off-street parking spaces are currently provided. This would reduce to 42 spaces, in support of the development.

"The site is located within Furthergate Business Park which features a range of commercial uses.

"Policy 11 requires a good standard of design and will be expected to enhance and reinforce the established character of the locality and demonstrate an understanding of the wider context towards making a positive contribution to the local area.

"The modest external alterations to the building reflect existing fenestration, commensurate with good design.

"Compliance with Policy 11 and supporting SPD policies is achieved.

"Accordingly, the proposal is compliant with the requirements of the Development Plan."

A cover letter submitted by Stuart Howden of DLP Planning Ltd on behalf of Empire states: "DLP Planning Ltd has been instructed by Empire Property Concepts to submit a full planning application for external alterations to existing openings and the insertion of two windows and three rooflights, as well as the re-arrangement of the parking area and inclusion of cycle parking hoops and bin store at Customs House, Chaucers Walk, Blackburn.

"The application site comprises a part two-single storey office building which was previously occupied by HMRC.

"The site is located within Furthergate Business Park to the east of Blackburn town centre.

"There are a mixture of uses neighbouring the site including Khanjra International Foods to the west and Furthergate Service Station to the east, as well as an office and warehouse to the north.

"The proposed external alterations will provide a good standard of amenity for the proposed occupiers as well as alterations to a number of existing openings.

"They are considered to be minor and would have a negligible impact on the visual amenity of the area."