The conversion of a former vicarage now home to a children's nursery into an 18-apartment complex will save the building from dereliction councillors were told

Wale Jones's application to convert Parsonage House in Blackburn Road, Accrington, was approved by Hyndburn Council's planning committee on Wednesday.

The stone-built detached property on the edge of the town centre was originally a vicarage when constructed in 1856 and is currently the Oscar Bears nursery.

After consultations with Hyndburn Council planners, Mr Jones has reduced the number of proposed one and two-bedroomed flats from 24 to 18.

The revised scheme to convert the two-storey building and its basement and add a four-storey extension was praised by councillors as they granted it planning permission with 24 conditions.

Peel ward's Cllr Clare Pritchard said: "This is a significant property, I would hate to see this building fall into a state of disrepair.

"I see this as the best thing that could happen to this building going forward."

Committee vice-chair Cllr Bernard Dawson said: "This is a significant building on Blackburn Road.

"We don't want to see an empty building there."

But, Baxenden Conservative councillor Kath Pratt raised concerns about inadequate parking and abstained as the rest of the committee voted to approve the project.

Altham ward's Cllr Steve Button said: "It's wonderful to see the town centre being re-invigorated."

Planning officer Adam Birkett told the meeting: "The building has been used as a children’s nursery since 1996 but the number of children attending the nursery has fallen and the business is considered by the applicant to be no longer viable.

"The proposal is to convert and extend the building to provide nine two-bed apartments and nine one-bed apartments.

"A total of six apartments would be provided within the existing building, including within the roof space.

"To the rear of the building, it is proposed to erect a four-storey rear extension on the existing car park,

"The proposed extension would be attached via a glazed link and would contain the remaining 12 apartments across three floors.

"The external area to the front would be used as communal gardens.

"All the flats will be fully self-contained with no shared facilities.

"The proposed car park will provide eight spaces which is a shortfall. However, the sustainable location of the site will support residents with no cars. There are public car parks within walking distance of the application site."