THE first Asian bazaar in Lancashire is set to open in Nelson next week.

It is hoped the High Street venture, which will sell a wide variety of Asian products, could bring up to 150 new jobs to the town.

Community leaders have welcomed the development for the former Poundstetcher premises and said they hope it will bring extra shoppers to the town by offering something different.

The bazaar is the brainchild of market stallholders Abrar Khan and Ibrar Hussain, who said it was expected to attract traders from Accrington, Blackburn, Bradford and Huddersfield.

Firm bookings have been made for all 48 stalls ahead of the expected opening on Friday May 13.

Mr Hussain said: “We have got planning permission for Pendle Borough Council to convert the premises into a market.

“There will be 48 different stalls, selling clothes, shoes, CDs, jewellery, fresh fruit and vegetables and hot food.

“We wanted to have a settled place to trade from, instead of always putting up stalls and taking them down again afterwards.

“Each stall could have two, three or four people working on them so we are looking at bringing 150 jobs to Nelson. We hope it will be a boost to the local economy.”

The announcement for the empty shop on the corner of Leeds Road and Holme Street, comes following a number of setbacks for town centre traders.

In a surprise move Tesco closed its Goitside store last year and retail giant Argos also confirmed last month, it would cease operations at the Victory Centre.

It is hoped the new development will compliment the existing indoor market.

Eileen Ansar, who runs town centre clothing store Slick, said: “It is good to see more traders coming to the town centre and we wish them every success for the future.”

Salim Mulla, Mosque's chairman, said: “I think it's an exciting development.

“Because of the name they are going to call it, a bazaar, that's likely to attract many, many people from far afield and I can see this being very, very popular here in Lancashire and outside.

“I'm sure it's going to attract a lot of business and visitors into the town and it seems a good business acquisition, model and idea.

“You have to give them credit for taking the decision to do something like this.”

County Councillor George Adam, who represents Nelson South, said he hoped the venture would help the indoor market flourish.

He said: “It will certainly bring people down to that side of the town.

“It's a bit barren at the moment because obviously shops down there have been shut for a long time and the market itself has suffered.

“I don't know what effect it will have on the indoor market but it should generate footfall.”

Coun Mohammed Iqbal said he also welcomed the bazaar.

He said: “I know of some of these bazaars being quite successful in other places like Bradford and Manchester and I'm sure the owners will be willing to work with the existing traders to make it a success.

“This should be a welcome shot in the arm for the town.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: "I think its good news for Nelson Town centre. Whilst we have had a series of set backs in recent months we have seen new shops opening including the for former Woolworths store.

"Although there is still a lot of work to do, new businesses like this can only be a positive step for Nelson Town Centre and the sign of things to come.

"All this comes as we are about to see the main road in Nelson reopen and I am sure this itself will encourage shoppers into the town."