AN imposing former pub building in a town centre conservation area could become an internet cafe and shisha bar.

Mr A Aqib wants to breathe new life into the former Royal Hotel, later Harry’s Bar, at the corner of Victoria Street and James Street, Blackburn.

The late 19th century building in the Richmond Terrace Conservation Area has been vacant for several years.

The proposal for the former pub has got a mixed reception from councillors welcoming the possibility of bringing the building back into use but concerned about another shisha bar.

Mr Aqib, from Burnley who owns the property, has applied for planning permission from Blackburn with Darwen Council for the change of use.

His planning consultant Trevor Hobday says in supporting documents: “The site contains a former town centre public house that has been vacant and falling into disrepair for the past four years.

“Permission is sought for the change of use of vacant premises into an internet cafe. There is also proposed, within the existing curtilage and at the rear facing Barbra Castle Way, an external open area to be used as a shisha area.

“The proposal is in an entirely sustainable location. The renovation and reuse of the premises will continue the overall upgrading of this part of the town centre.”

Blackburn Central ward’s Cllr Zamir Khan said: “I need to look at this application closely. It is good someone wants to bring this building back into use but we already have a lot of shisha bars in the town centre.”

Cllr Paul Marrow, regeneration spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Conservative group, said: “I am in favour of bringing old buildings back into use and an internet cafe would be good as we don’t seem to have many in the town centre. I’m not so sure about a shisha bar as these have proved problematic in the past.”