THE purchase of an iconic industrial building on a key town centre gateway site has been confirmed by councillors.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's executive board on Thursday night approved the deal to buy Imperial Mill.

Now it is drawing up plans to restore and regenerate the giant 1901 building in Blackburn's Gorse Street from the Lancashire Saw Company which employs 35 staff on the first floor.

Conservative group opposition leader Cllr John Slater backed the move.

He told the meeting: "I support this as long as it is not going to end up costing us a fortune.

"It's important that we protect this building so people can see Blackburn's heritage.

"It's important that we do this right.

"I just hope it is a success."

Council regeneration boss Cllr Quesir Mahmood said: "This is a landmark building.

"It is really important we try and save this iconic building.

"It really is part of the borough's history - the only purpose-built spinning mill in the town."

Cllr Phil Riley, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council said: "This has been a long time in gestation. I think we are all excited."

The authority hopes to develop Imperial Mill for employment and cultural use with the help of government and other grant aid.

As part of the terms of the sale, the Lancashire Saw Company would be offered a 15 year lease.

The building is already earmarked as part of The Super Slow Way arts commissioning programme's Pennine Linear Park project to redevelop the Leeds and Liverpool Canal across East Lancashire as a cultural corridor.

Regenerating the imposing building close to Carl Fogarty Way commercial development hub links into the council’s Blackburn Growth Axis, one of six plans in its £1billion vision for the future.

The deal would also include the gatehouse, home to a printing firm, and 3.7 acres of land.