THE latest stage of the £2.6million conversion of the Lancashire Telegraph’s former office into town centre flats has been been given the go-ahead by council planners.

Developer Empire Property Concepts has secured planning for the conversion of the warehouse at Blackburn's Newspaper House into 13 apartments.

Its contractor have now started the stripping out of the building for the creation of the one-bedroom properties for rent.

It is the latest stage of the Doncaster-based firm's conversion of the newspaper office on High Street which started in 2018,.

It has already created 66 apartments in the four-storey building which sits adjacent to the town’s near Cathedral Quarter.

Empire is also in the final stages of creating six one-bedroom apartments in the building’s basement.

Work is also well under way with the developer's conversion of the former tax office on Chaucers Walk in the Furthergate Business Park in the town centre into 37 upmarket flats.

With the lockdown being lifted for the construction sector, Empire is now getting its contractors back on site at its locations in Blackburn.

Paul Rothwell, Empire's managing director, said, “We are delighted to be continuing to work in Blackburn and with the borough council.

“At the time of the conversion of Newspaper House local councillors were keen to encourage more people to live in the town centre as this brings a vibrancy throughout the day. It’s great to be back and creating even more dwellings for local people.”

Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Council's regeneration boss, said: "This is brilliant news.

"We have long wanted to get people living in Blackburn town centre and the conversion of the former Lancashire Telegraph building into Newspaper House has seen the start of that.

"It is very encouraging that Empire are continuing to invest in Blackburn centre.

"The company seems to like the town and the council looks forward to continuing to tto work with the company."

The new one-bedroom flats will be for private sale or rental aimed at young working professionals.

The tax office conversion was given planning permission after Empire convinced officers the proposal for the Customs House met stringent design standards.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs closed the office as part of a modernisation plan to replace 137 offices across the UK with 13 regional centres by the end of this year.