A FAMOUS town centre rock pub will now be converted into a restaurant and five flats.

The Sir Charles Napier in Limbrick, Blackburn, closed in December 2022 after being run as a community enterprise following a campaign to save it in 2015 backed by Rob Halford of British heavy metal pioneers Judas Priest.

In May, it was sold by owners Daniel Thwaites brewery.

Now new proprietor Rafiq Ventures Ltd has been given planning permission by Blackburn with Darwen Council to convert it into a restaurant and five flats.

The approval includes eight conditions one of which specifies the opening hours of the ground floor restaurant will be from 8am to 11pm Sundays to Thursdays and 8am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader, a former customer and rock music fan, Cllr Phil Riley said: "The demise of The Napier was obviously disappointing but in the end it is far better to have the building being used than standing empty."

The approval follows Younus Khan of ZT properties being granted planning permission in January to convert another landmark vacant former Blackburn town centre pub - the Adelphi Hotel in Railway Road - into a ground floor eaterie with six apartments on the two floors above.

A report by planning officer Martin Kenny says: "The proposal site is a redundant former public house, the Sir Charles Napier, located at the corner of Limbrick and Tontine Street.

"The site is within the Northgate Conservation Area and adjacent to the Richmond Terrace Conservation Area.

"The host building was built around the early 1900s and is of two-storeys with attic, constructed from redbrick with a principal ashlar sandstone façade.

"On the roof to the side, the property has a series of modern dormers installed.

"Following receipt of amended plans, the application seeks permission for the change of use of the former public house to a restaurant within the ground floor, with the upper two floors given over to five self-contained flats: four with one bedroom and one with two.

"The proposal provides potential for harmful impacts to surrounding residential uses and future occupants of the self-contained apartments through the impacts of the proposed ground floor restaurant use. "Principally this relates to noise generated by late-night activity and emanating from the restaurant’s extraction system, as well as odour.

"Public protection colleagues have worked with the agent to ensure an appropriate specification for the extraction system.

"Sound proofing measures are also required between the ground floor use and the self-contained residential uses above.

"No dedicated recreational facilities are provided, given the absence of any external yard or garden space.

"This is not uncommon within town centre locations, and it is considered that the close proximity of public parks and other town centre leisure offers (such as the sports centre) satisfactorily addresses this shortfall.

"The council’s conservation advisor has appraised the application and offered the following conclusion: 'I consider that the proposal would meet the statutory test ‘to preserve’ and would not result in any substantive harm to either the character of the Northgate Conservation Area or the significance of the Richmond Terrace Conservation Area'."