COUNCILLORS have paved the way for a sports goods store to come to a controversial East Lancashire retail park.

The owners of Hyndburn Retail Park, formerly known as the Peel Centre, at Whitebirk on the Blackburn/Hyndburn border have been given permission to bring the outlet to its unit 5.

When the centre was originally granted planning permission in 1984 a condition restricted the range of products that could be sold to bulky goods.

Now owners Peel Investment Properties Ltd can sell ‘sportswear, sports and leisure footwear, sports goods and equipment and items ancillary thereto including casual wear and leisure wear’ at the unit.

On Wednesday Hyndburn Council planning committee unanimously approved the broadening of the list solely for unit 5 despite concerns about the impact on Great Harwood town centre.

Nick Pleasant from NJL Consulting representing Peel told the councillors the new business would spend an initial £500,000 fitting out the store which would create jobs for local people.

He said he was not in a position to name the firm which already has a Blackburn town centre store which will remain open.

Rishton ward's Cllr Kate Walsh said she fully backed the change and said it would create much-needed jobs for young people.

Hyndburn Council's chief planning officer Simon Prideaux told the meeting that a specialist retail consultant Urban Agile had considered the impact the new store would have on neighbouring town centres and judged it to be minimal except in the case of Great Harwood.

It said the effect on Great Harwood would be acceptable but any future applications for similar stores on the retail park would have to be very carefully considered.