A FORMER bowling alley is to be converted into a 24-hour gym and retail unit after plans were given the go-ahead.

National health club chain Jett Gyms has had a planning application approved to move into the old 1st Bowl unit at The Viaduct in Accrington, which has been empty since 2013.

Globe Enterprises, which owns the unit, applied to Hyndburn Council for permission to change conditions on a planning application which was initially approved in November 2015.

The changes will see the site divided to create one 5,000sq ft leisure unit, which will be operated by Jett Gyms, and one 4,800sq ft retail unit.

Jett Gyms, who owns various health clubs throughout the country, will operate the leisure unit as a 24 hour gym seven days a week.

The retail unit will then be marketed to potential occupiers.

A statement from planning agents Indigo Planning said: "At present the unit provides no contribution to the vitality and viability of the centre, and presents a prominent reminder of decline.

"The application will therefore utilise a longstanding vacant unit in a prominent gateway into the town centre back into active use.

"In doing so, it will create a number of jobs, as well as bringing footfall and activity to the area.

"It will also create an attractive and vibrant environment which will support other nearby uses and occupiers."

The changes were approved by Hyndburn planning department earlier this month after being submitted at the start of November.

The previous plans were to convert it into two retail units and one retail/leisure unit, but no occupants were listed.

The initial plan also said there would be 51 parking spaces created, taking the number of spaces available to 136.

Cllr Tony Dobson, member of the Accrington Town Team, said it is good news for the area that large businesses are looking to invest.

He said: "I think in an ideal world we would have liked to have a successful bowling alley in the town centre for families to go to.

"But I think the days of this are gone.

"I welcome the fact another national operator is coming in to Accrington.

"It is good for the area that we are attracting these sort of companies and they are looking to invest in the area."

The application site is an empty unit situated between Farm Foods retail unit and the Vue Cinema on the Viaduct leisure park, close to Accrington Town Centre.