News that a former chocolate shop at the heart of a town centre is to be turned into a bookies has been met with frustration.

The Old Chocolate Box on King Street in Clitheroe is to become a betting shop under Boyle Sports (UK) Limited, following a decision to grant a change of use from retail unit to betting office.

The development will provide three full time and three part time jobs, with plans for the shop to be open from 8am until 10pm seven days a week.

Proposals lodged with Ribble Valley Borough Council also sought permission to make several external alterations to the building, which is next to the new Specsavers, including a double sided, heritage style projecting board sign on a decorative wall bracket; two satellite dishes to the rear roof; and an air conditioning unit (to be housed within the store to the rear of the property).

The application was lodged with the council in May and at a planning meeting on September 29, councillors chose to approve the proposals, however, the granting of permission did not relate to the building alterations, and planning officers advised that should there be any deviation from the approved plan the Local Planning Authority must be informed.

Despite being given the go ahead, several objections have been made, including one which stated the development would be 'inappropriate' for the area.

The objection read: "I feel the suggested development is inappropriate for a main street in Clitheroe, given the size of the pavement, lack of parking and potential harm persistent gambling can bring to our community.

"The area is a major family shopping centre and I feel this type of development, if indeed we need one, would be far more suited to a retail premises on the outskirts.

"Also, given the rise in the online provision for this type of activity, I suspect within a relatively short period of time we will be looking at another empty unit."

While another objection stated: "There can be no guarantee that the proposed betting office would result in the benefits referred to in the applicant Planning Statement, but every likelihood that it would have an adverse effect upon the character and retail function of this frontage.

"It is concluded, in all the circumstances, that this application should be resisted."

And one person, who has recently moved to Clitheroe said: "This will ruin what, at the moment is a very attractive, unspoilt old fashioned yet vibrant centre which had a lot to do with my recent decision to move to the area."

Matthew Taylor, who has a shop in Clitheroe town centre, said he only became aware of the change of use and proposal for a betting shop to be sited in the town centre after seeing a tiny notice in the shop window.

He said: "To say I’m fuming is an under statement. It was a historical building and now it’s going to be a bookies.

"Horrible, horrible news. It’s disgusting really, I’m very upset about it.

"It’s almost stealth nowadays the way they put a tiny poster up in a window to make you aware of such things."

The council said the borough's core strategy outlined the importance of development supporting and enhancing 'the vibrancy, consumer choice, vitality and unique character of the area's most important retail and service centres', and because the site had been vacant for so long and had not been able to contribute to the local retail vibrancy, therefore, a proposed change of use would be accepted.

There were no objections from Highways or Clitheroe Town Council.