doc

A BUSINESSMAN wants to revive Blackburn’s former Utopia nightclub to boost the town’s evening economy.

Leon Kelly believes the re- opening could play a key part in the council’s strategy for the future, with a projected opening date of summer next year.

Next Thursday, January 16, he will present his idea to council leader Kate Hollern and her regeneration supremo Andrew Lightfoot.

The proposal would involve spending more than £500,000 on the shell of the old nightclub building, on the top of The Mall, originally the Cavendish Club.

Mr Kelly, who runs the ‘Level One’ nightclub chain, said: “Because Blackburn’s nightlife has taken a serious downward spiral, I want to build on the nostalgia for the Cavendish Club, Peppermint Place, and Utopia.

“The only way the council could regenerate the town would be to re-open the thing that made Black-burn synonymous with a night out.

“A lot of people have got an enormous amount of love and affection for it.

Mr Kelly has already contacted Mall bosses, who would need to repair the building, and will ask Coun Hollern for Blackburn with Darwen Council backing and cash.

Blackburn-born Mr Kelly, 36, who lives in Wilpshire, would split the proposed new club into Utopia, aimed at 18 to 25s, and Peppermint Place for older clubbers. It would host live bands.

He said: “If I can pull together a plan with The Mall and the council, I have a significant amount of my own money I could invest.”

Coun Hollern said: “I am looking forward to meeting Mr Kelly. The council wants to revive Blackburn as an evening destination and we will do whatever we can to help.”

Mall general manager Loraine Jones said: “This is an interesting idea, but he would need a viable fin-ancial package to go ahead.”

Mr Kelly currently runs a ‘Level One’ club in Accrington, plans to open one in Darwen on January 31, and ran a similar venue in Burnley, which closed on New Year’s Eve.