A FORMER pub which was closed because of breaches of coronavirus rules could become three shops and a flat.

The Duke of Wellington in Blackburn Road, Great Harwood, was shut after a joint operation between Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Police and licensing officers at Hyndburn Council in August 2020.

A few days later the owners, Burnley-based Baron and Douglas, voluntarily relinquished the alcohol licence.

Their action came just before it was due to be reviewed by Hyndburn Council’s licensing committee.

The hearing had been called after the police objected to the licence, citing drug dealing and drug taking on the premises.

Now, Jabbar Ahmed has applied to Hyndburn Council for planning permission to convert the vacant building.

He wants to turn it from a bar to three retail shop units on the ground floor a flat on the first floor.

Councillor Pat McGinley (Independent, Overton) said: "I would certainly like to see the building brought back into use.

"However it only has one main entrance so I wonder how it can be converted into three shops on the ground floor.

"I would like to see more details about the proposed final usage.

"It is on a busy roundabout so parking could be difficult.

"It appears that renovations are taking place."

When the pub was ordered to shut for breaching Covid-19 guidelines at 7pm on Friday, August 14, 2020, it was the first such order in Lancashire.

Since then it has remained closed.

Cllr Noordad Aziz from the neighbouring Netherton ward said: "It is in a conservation area.

"Given that the pub was a problem during Covid, provided the rules are met I think it is a positive step."

Sergeant Gary Hennighan, the police's licensing officer for East Lancashire, said in August 2020: “There have been problems with these premises for some years."

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Lancashire County Council’s public health director, said at the time of the closure order that there had been "a lack of social distancing" at the Duke of Wellington rendering customers unsafe.

Mr Ahmed was not immediately available for comment.

The manager of The Duke of Wellington at the time of the closure Patrick Brizio accused the authorities of a "witch hunt" in closing his pub.