The final death knell for Marks & Spencer's Blackburn town centre store has been sounded by councillors who approved a new food hall site for the retailer on the Issa brothers' Frontier Park.

Hyndburn Council planning committee has granted planning permission for the new £10.1 million outlet just off the M65's Junction 6, after overturning an officer's recommendation to reject it.

The approval was given despite a last-ditch attempt by Blackburn with Darwen Council to propose the location on the cleared Thwaites Brewery site originally earmarked for a new Morrison's supermarket as an alternative.

The decision means work can commence on the new M&S outlet on the billionaire Issa Brothers' Rishton development just across the local authority boundary in Hyndburn.

The decision follows the retailer announcing in November it plans to close the 1980s King William Street, Blackburn, shop and will see the return of the brand to Hyndburn for the first time since it closed its Accrington town centre store in March 2016.

M&S had threatened to leave the area entirely if the Frontier Park store were not approved.

Planning officer Adam Birkett told the meeting on Wednesday there were other more suitable sites for the new food hall, including the brewery site, the former DW Sports store in Mayson Street, Blackburn, and off Carl Fogarty Way, Blackburn.

Therefore, he said, the proposal for Frontier Park should be rejected for failing the 'sequential' retail test.

But the committee voted by 10 to three to reject that advice, after being told by M&S town planning manager Lynn Scott, and PWA Planning's Matthew Wyatt, representing the Issa brothers' property arm Monte Blackburn Ltd, that the retailer would pull out of the area altogether if the application was refused.

They were backed up by former Hyndburn Council leader Miles Parkinson who, attending as a member of the public, told the meeting: "M&S is a premium brand and we should grab it.

"Frontier Park is absolutely essential to the borough. Residents need to be attracted to it. We do not need to refuse this at the behest of Blackburn with Darwen Council."

Ms Scott said: "The Blackburn store no longer provides a quality shopping experience.

"It is potentially brand damaging. If this application is refused we will leave the area."

Mr Wyatt added: "Alternative locations in Blackburn with Darwen are not commercially viable for M&S.

"They won't invest and will focus their attention on more welcoming authorities.

"Failure to approve the application risks not only the whole investment but also the jobs and economic contributions tied to it."

Huncoat Conservative Councillor Danny Cassidy said: "We are talking about the Rolls Royce of retailers looking at Hyndburn.

"We should not even consider refusing this application."

Fellow Conservative Cllr Terry Hurn, for Baxenden, said: "I welcome this application. We have had a big void since M&S left Accrington."

Labour's Overton Cllr Scott Brerton said: "I think it will be a huge boost the have M&S back in the borough."

A late Blackburn with Darwen Council submission to the committee said: "The former Thwaites site, a sequentially preferable edge-of-centre site, is clearly available, and the development could also commence quickly in accordance with the M&S requirements."

The authority's leader Cllr Phil Riley said after the meeting: "As we explained a few weeks ago, we are obviously disappointed by the M&S decision to leave Blackburn town centre, but this is driven by M&S national policies and is not a reflection on the town centre.

"We will now work with our colleagues to see what the next steps are for the regeneration of the town centre."

Alex Kenwright, Monte Blackburn Ltd's development director, said: "We are delighted with the decision."

An M&S spokesperson said: "We are delighted that we can now move forward with opening a brand-defining new M&S food hall.

“With shopping habits changing, we need to have the right stores, in the right place, with the right space to offer our customers a brilliant shopping experience."

The firm will transfer all the 120 staff from Blackburn to the new Frontier Park food hall.

A closing date for the King William Street store is yet to be announced.