An out-of-town toy store could open by the end of the year, if planning bosses give the application the green light.
Planning chiefs had recommended Peel Land and Property Investments’ application to open a 1,394sm Smyths Toy store at the Peel Centre on Whitebirk Drive, for refusal in February.
There has been an agreement covering the whole Peel Centre site since 2009, which was put in place to ensure that the goods sold ‘would not harm the vitality and viability of nearby town centres’.
However, a decision over the application was deferred until Tuesday, March 24 to allow developers to address planning officers’ concerns.
After consultation with the council, Peel Land and Property Investments has ‘satisfied’ several key concerns over the goods that will be for sale from the site and the impact the store would have on nearby town centres such as Accrington and Blackburn.
A Peel spokeswoman said: “The letting to Smyths is integral to our plans to invest in the refurbishment of the rear terrace of the retail park and will directly enable this crucial investment to take place. A successful outcome at next week’s committee will see work starting on site in early May, with Smyths then being able open in time for the hugely important Christmas trading period.
“We firmly believe that if this significant investment is able to take place as programmed, then retailer interest in the scheme will grow and further lettings will follow.”
In a report to the planning committee, Hyndburn council’s policy officer said: “I would agree that Smyths Toys should be considered a bulky goods operator and it is therefore suitable to trade from this particular location.
“They have subsequently demonstrated why there are no suitable or available sites in sequentially preferable locations within the primary catchment area.”
As a result of the guarantees and clarifications from the developers Hyndburn’s planning committee has been recommended to approve a new planning agreement in relation to the proposed site for Smyths Toys.
The report to planning committee said: “The council is satisfied that there is still a need for a legal agreement to be in place as a means of protecting nearby town centres. However, it also recognises that market conditions change over time and an example of this is the emergence of large format toy stores who operate from large warehouses in out of town locations.”
If the new agreement is approved, it will allow ‘a toy store’ to operate from the site, paving the way for Smyths.