A FORMER fireplace shop under a dance studio is to be turned into a convenience store.

Planners have approved Imran Khan's proposal for the conversion of the empty ground floor premises at 35 Fore Street, Lower Darwen.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has granted a Lawful Development Certificate for the change as the new use is also for retail purposes.

A report by planning officer Jamie Edwards says: "The application site relates to an existing commercial unit situated on the northern side of Fore Street, near the junction with Duchess Street, Lower Darwen.

"To the first floor is a separate planning unit currently operating as a Dance and Acro Studio.

"There is a relatively large, shared car park area to the side of the property.

"A Lawful Development Certificate is sought for the proposed change of use of the ground floor from a retail fireplace shop with ancillary manufacturing to a convenience store.

"The intended occupier for the unit will be ‘One Stop’.

"A separate advertisement consent application has been submitted to display proposed signage i.e. fascia, hanging, window and posters relating to the business use.

"The host property has been subject to several previous planning applications.

"Firstly, a scheme was approved to convert the existing commercial premises into flats. It is clearly evident from the submitted floor plans accompanying this application the primary use of the ground floor was a shop.

"However, this permission to form residential flat accommodation was never implemented.

"Following this, a further change of use application from a shop to restaurant was refused.

"Finally, within the officer’s delegated report for the change of use to a dance studio at the property’s first floor it refers to following; ‘the ground floor of the premises is a fireplace retail shop with some ancillary manufacturing’.

"All the above evidently demonstrates the use of the ground floor as being used for retail purposes for a significant length of time.

"This is also confirmed by the council’s business rates team stating the last use of the property was ‘The Fireplace Shop’ which ceased trading on August 3 2023.

"It was apparent on my site visit that there had been no intervening permitted change of use or unauthorised use following the last fireplace retail operations.

"On that basis, the current lawful use is accepted as a retail shop for the display or retail sale of goods, other than hot food, principally to visiting members of the public.

"The existing lawful use of the premises is accepted and the use proposed as a ‘convenience store’ also falls within the same use class."