A DISUSED pub, once the centre of controversial plans for a Muslim community centre, could now become a carpets shop.

The former Lockside Tavern, previously the Infirmary Hotel, has been empty for five years.

In 2017 proposals to turn the premises, at the junction of Bolton Road and Infirmary Street in Blackburn, into a community centre for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the town were rejected by planners because of the lack of parking.

A second scheme to make the building into five flats put forward in October came to nothing as did earlier plans to use it as a nursery.

Now Habib Patel is proposing to turn the Ewood building into a shop and has submitted a planning application to Blackburn with Darwen Council.

Ewood ward’s Cllr Maureen Bateson has given the scheme a cautious welcome but Conservative regeneration spokesman Cllr Derek Hardman expressed concern about the lack of nearby parking which had scuppered previous proposals.

A design and access statement accompanying the application says: “The property is a disused public house which has fallen into disrepair and a new use is sought to create vitality and regeneration to bring this character building back into use.

“The reasoning is the lack of available premises in what is a busy commercial stretch facing Bolton Road adjacent to residential and commercial office units.

“A unique characteristic of this property is its dual aspect facing both Bolton Road and Infirmary Street. In order to create an appropriate streetscape that utilises this dual aspect, a facelift to the front is proposed.

“A retail use is proposed at ground floor level for the selling and display of carpets and flooring products.

“Bolton Road is in a highly accessible location. Dedicated parking is also available to the rear of the site curtilage.

Cllr Bateson said: “I will have to look at the application in detail. However I am in favour of the application provided there is sufficient parking and depending what is on sale in the shop.”

Cllr Hardman said: “There is the same problem of lack or parking as with the community centre proposal. I am also worried about competition from other local shops. I don’t want to see this go ahead and fall by the wayside and still end up with a boarded-up building.”