Blackburn food store 'flooded with excited shoppers' hit by planning permission row

The former Oval World site on Whalley Old Road
The former Oval World site on Whalley Old Road -Credit:Google

A new food store in a former cotton mill which attracted a crowd of shoppers when it opened last month is now the subject of a planning dispute.

When owner Shah Rukh Khan took over the vacant former Oval World wallpaper store off Whalley Old Road in Blackburn he did not know he needed permission for the change of use. Following an intervention by planning enforcement officers he has now applied for backdated approval of the conversion of the premises in the former Bastfield Mill in Beech Street.

A supporting statement submitted to Blackburn with Darwen Council by the Urban Future Planning Consultancy Ltd says: “The application is being made retrospectively as the store opened on March 5 without the benefit of planning permission.

“However, the applicant did not seek to deliberately circumvent the planning system: given the previous use of the site (for the sale and display of wallpaper goods), he was under the impression that the new use would be lawful.


“The applicant received correspondence from the council’s enforcement department however stating that consent ought to be sought. Oval World ceased trading from the site in 2023 and the site remained vacant for some time.

“The applicant has since invested considerable resources in to transforming the vacant floorspace into a vibrant, user-friendly specialist retail unit which is highly regarded in the immediate locality and which is a source of employment for local people.

“The facility already has a loyal, supportive customer base. It is intended that the store will focus on the sale of food, fresh produce and groceries as well as packaged Asian speciality items.

“The facility also includes an in-store butcher serving halal meats. The site is located within an ethnically diverse ward where a majority of residents identify as being of Muslim faith and deriving from South-East Asian countries.

“As such, the store provides mainly goods of South-East Asian origin and halal products. The application site comprises part of Bastfield mill which was built as a cotton mill in 1862-63 by James Astley and stands on the banks of the river Blakewater.

“The mill ceased trading in 1959. Since then, the site has had a number of commercial uses and has been subdivided.

“Planning permission was granted for the change of use from wholesale to wholesale with limited retail at the premises in November of 1996. Since then, the site was used for the sale of wallpaper until the closure of Oval World in 2023.

“There are many benefits to be accrued through permitting the proposed scheme, namely, securing the future of a long-standing vacant property in a sustainable location, visual improvements to the site and surroundings and additional revenue for the local council through additional business rates. “