A VICTORIAN town centre church is to get a replacement parish hall.

Planners have approved a new two-storey brick building to cater for the residents of new housing developments near St Luke’s Church in Bank Top, Blackburn.

It would replace an existing single-storey hall built in the early 1970s.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's planning department have given permission for the project to go ahead subject to four conditions.

They require building work to start within three years and the advance submission samples of all external walling, roofing and window materials and a landscaping scheme.

The decision note, signed by Martin Kelly, its strategic director of place, says: "The proposal is of appropriate design and appearance and would not be detrimental to amenity or compromise highway safety."

The Parochial Church Council of St Luke’s Church had applied for planning permission for the new building having rejected refurbishing the existing one.

The new two-storey building on the site of the existing church hall would provide office space for 12 to 16 people; space for four youth group breakouts; a kitchen capable of providing up to 200 meals, disabled access and accessible toilets.

It will also be used for Christian discussion groups and as a drop in centre for teenagers and those needing temporary shelter.

A supporting statement to planners said: “The church is temporarily closed but usually holds community events and meetings in both the church and the attached church hall.

“Its spire can be seen for at least 3.4 miles when approaching Blackburn and it serves as a landmark in the town.

“The church hall is a single-storey building attached to the church built in 1875 via a short link corridor.

“Blackburn with Darwen Council has plans for the surrounding area, as part of the Griffin Regeneration Area.

“The location of the site opens up opportunities to serve growing residential areas to the south.

“The main use of the building will be as office space. In the multi-function spaces it is proposed that small and medium-sized Christian discussion meetings will be held, as well as family groups, for example parent and toddler groups."