A MAJOR leisure complex which could bring 350 new jobs to East Lancashire has been hailed as a "bonanza" by councillors.

Plans to build the multi-million pound centre, which will include a multiplex cinema and bowling alley, have won unanimous backing at a planning meeting.

Full planning permission was given to developers who want to build the complex on council owned land near Whitebirk.

Because the massive site crosses over into Hyndburn councillors from the neighbouring borough will have their say on the project later this month.

Labour's Gail Barton spoke at a planning and highways sub-committee. She said: "This is excellent news for Blackburn. This is a great opportunity not just for the town but for the area as a whole.

"We should be absolutely delighted that this now looks as if it is going to go ahead."

Councillor Barton added: "This application represents a long hard slog. There has been a lot of hard work from our officers and from councillors to get to this point.

"This is a real bonanza in terms of investment and jobs in Blackburn and the surrounding area."

Conservative councillor Clare Forrest added: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Blackburn and I would agree wholeheartedly with everything that has been said."

The complex, complete with around 1,000 parking spaces, will be built alongside the M65 extension.

There are also plans to build a train station to connect the centre with the East Lancashire rail line.

Planning permission was given on condition that Kingspark, the Midlands based developers, signs a legal agreement.

The firm has agreed to build a smaller cinema in Accrington town centre as well as hand over £300,000 towards the cost of the new station.

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