Prior approval for plans to convert a building into retail or commercial space and eight apartments has been refused.

An application was lodged with Blackburn with Darwen Council to convert Dove Cottage Mill, Duckworth Street, Darwen, into flats. The building was bought by the current owner with a view to refurbishment.

It has lain empty and unused for a period of time and even though there have been attempts to ensure it remains secure, it has become a magnet for anti-social behaviour. Most recent past uses for the building were as a commercial / retail unit at ground floor and the first and second floors were split into varying sizes of offices for individual rental.

The proposal was to fully refurbish the existing building including re-roofing, replacement windows and structural repairs. The ground floor would have consisted of a retail or commercial space while the first and second floors would have been converted into eight one-bedroom apartments.

But the council’s director of growth and development, Ian Richardson, wrote to the applicants to confirm prior approval was refused.

Officers found insufficient information had been submitted to demonstrate that the ground floor of the existing building was in use as an office on or prior to May 29, 2013.