A £16million expansion plan for Whitebirk retail park has been thrown out.

Manchester-based Peel Holdings wanted to introduce a range of food and fashion retailers at the site on the Hyndburn-Blackburn border.

The retail park is currently only permitted to sell DIY, home improvement or bulky goods.

Last month it was revealed that furniture giant CSL, currently based at a 17,000 sq ft complex on the outskirts of Hyndburn, would move into a new stand alone unit if the plans went ahead.

Members of Hyndburn Borough Council’s planning commitee refused the application for a Lawful Development Certificate on the grounds that necessary works had not been carried out and that the application was “legally flawed”.

Peel said it was “naturally disappointed” at the decision and said it it believes it goes against the will of the local community.

A spokesperson for Peel said: “Officers and members failed to grasp the relevant legal issues.

“Their decision will now delay delivery of the subs-tantial improvements to the retail offer and physical environment at Whitebirk.

“Local people overwhelmingly support our plans to modernise Whitebirk and bring a wider range of retailers into Hyndburn.

“Granting the certificates would have unlocked well over £16m of investment, created over 250 jobs within Hyndburn and provided Hyndburn voters with an alternative to travelling to retails parks in Preston and Bolton. We will now be reviewing options with our legal team.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council opposed the plans, along with representatives of The Mall, Blackburn, on the grounds that Peel were exploiting a planning loophole, and it would attract business out of nearby town centres.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “The Whitebirk site affects Blackburn just as much as Hyndburn. I’m delighted that the planning committee have stood up against Peel Hopldings.

“Their statement after the decision is disingenuous and condescending.

“It’s frankly insulting. Hyndburn Borough Council have gone to great lengths to ensure they were acting lawfully.

“Peel haven’t given any reference to the adverse impact the proposed development would have on nearby town centres.

“And have instead resorted to legal technicalities to bypass a full application.”