Backdated approval granted for £80k Blackburn hotel - after businessman pulls out

Backdated approval has been granted for the £80,000 conversion of an empty commercial building into a hotel but only after the businessman behind the venture pulled out.

Waqas Mirza of The Hotel Group Blackburn opened The Queens Apart’Hotel next to Blackburn Library on Town Hall Street in January, but then had to close it as it lacked the necessary planning permission. He applied for retrospective approval for the conversion which has now been granted.

In the meantime Mr Mirza has withdrawn from the project which would have had six apartments and a sports bar on the ground floor.
Blackburn with Darwen Council granted the retrospective planning permission with three conditions despite neighbours concerns and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service action regarding fire safety breaches.

Mr Mirza – who operates two other similar ventures in Blackburn town centre (The Kings Hotel in King Street and the Hotel Royal in Simmons Street) – said: “I myself am no longer involved with the Town Hall Street Queens Apart’Hotel.


“My company terminated our lease on the property due to unforeseen circumstances. The owner will be continuing the property as a hotel and will be operating it independently.”

A report by senior planner Christian Barton said: “The application site is a four-storey commercial building within Blackburn town centre and the Northgate Conservation Area. A hotel, and subsequently a bar, have been operated from there previously.

“Recent works have been undertaken to convert the building into a hotel. Since the site visit the front signage has been removed and the hotel is reported to be currently unused.

“This application seeks retrospective consent to use the building as a hotel. A ‘sports bar’, office and ancillary functions would be operated from the ground floor.

"Public comments have been received objecting on the following grounds;

  • the development may not be operated as a hotel;

  • negative effects for local businesses; and

  • antisocial behaviour may increase.

“Should any wider uses be operated that do not benefit from planning consent then they would be subject to formal enforcement action. Policy prioritises Blackburn town centre for new main town centre uses, which a hotel falls within.

“In simple terms, hotels attract people to town centres through providing accommodation for visitors, which provides subsequent benefits for the local economy. Furthermore, the proposals would introduce a use within a long-standing vacant building.

“The site occupies a prominent position within the conservation area and town centre. Therefore, any improvements to its appearance are welcomed. .

“The site has been subject to ongoing fire safety concerns following being opened as a hotel unlawfully earlier in the year. Lancashire Fire and Rescue have served notice on the owner regarding fire safety breaches. Failure to comply with the notice would result in the owners being prosecuted.”Both Mr Mirza’s other ventures – the Kings Hotel and Hotel Royal – required him to obtain backdated planning permission – the latter after an appeal to the government’s planning inspectorate.