A TOWN centre's new Turkish eaterie is on track to open in time for the Christmas and New Year festive season after gaining planning permission.

Blackburn's Istanbul Restaurant and Bar will occupy the premises of the former Reidy’s music store on Nab Lane – near Blackburn College, the town’s sports and leisure centre and the new Reel Cinema.

Part of a fast-growing chain it will have 55 tables and accommodate up to 220 diners with more space in the ground floor bar.

Work can now start on fitting it out after Blackburn with Darwen Council planners approved the scheme for the new restaurant.

News of the decision has been welcomed by Tony Duckworth, president of Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade.

It comes after the unveiling of the statue of former Blackburn MP and cabinet minister Barbara Castle in the new Jubilee Square in front of the college as part of the £3.8million part National Lottery-funded Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage project to create a restaurant, bar and leisure quarter.

A report by planning officer Nick Blackledge says: "The proposal site is located within close proximity to the Grade II Listed College of Technology And Design and the Grade II King George’s Hall. Overall, the proposal will cause no harm to either the character or appearance of the Northgate Conservation Area nor to the contribution made by the setting to the significance of the Grade II listed buildings."

Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley said: “This is excellent news.

“It is another piece in the jigsaw that is going to make Jubilee Square and Blakey Moor an attractive place for hospitality.”

Mr Duckworth said: “It is good to see people taking up these hospitality premises. I wish the Istanbul restaurant every success in Blackburn. Progress is being made on the Blakey Moor/Northgate side of town. I hope it continues.”

A spokeswoman for The Atrium Group confirmed that the granting of planning permission meant the restaurant was on schedule for a pre-Christmas opening.

The restaurant will have 33 tables for four diners in a ground-floor dining area next to a bar with seven tables for two and 15 bar stools. There will be a mezzanine floor with another 22 tables.