THE site of Blackburn Market is not likely to become a supermarket, according to a leading councillor.

A mixture of shops and offices looks likely for the Ainsworth Street site, set to be vacated when the market moves into Blackburn's new £66 million shopping centre off Church Street, Coun Alan Cottam said.

Traders have voiced concerns about the move, but council bosses claim stall-holders will sign up to the new market "like a flock of sheep" once detailed designs are available.

The stalls are set to be moved into a £5 million base on the ground floor of the new centre which is due to be completed in Spring 2010.

Demolition work on Lord Square finally started this week, paving the way for the move.

When it is finished, the market's current home on Ainsworth Street will be vacant - and council bosses say it is too early to say what will replace it.

There had been rumours it would be sold to a major supermarket chain, but Coun Cottam, executive member for regeneration, said: "I wouldn't think it would be a supermarket - we have enough.

"Unless it's something different that has to be in the town centre.

"There is a shortage of office space. I don't think the town is big enough for another shopping centre, so it has to be mixed use."

Coun Cottam admitted the market had been "blighted" by the publicity surrounding the new shopping centre.

He said they were looking into ways of boosting the market.

Coun Cottom said: "When you announce things five years before they are going to happen, it blights it. People think it is already closed.

"It's difficult in retrospect because when you get good news, you want to broadcast it.

"At the moment our first thoughts are with the market traders.

"We have some very good traders, and we want to support them.

"We will do some reorganisation until we get to the hard core of people who want to move into the new site.

"When we get the new designs, stallholders will be in like a flock of sheep."

Traders clashed with council bosses this week at a meeting where the council was accused of "paying lip service" to traders' concerns.

Last year council bosses revealed they wanted the new market to be six-day a week rather than three days, to have more "high-quality" food outlets and "better balance" of stalls.