COUNCILLORS have unanimously approved a plan to bring a toy superstore to Barrow

Smyths Toys is due to open a new store in Hollywood Park in a unit currently occupied by Apollo Bingo. 

A meeting of Barrow Council's planning committee was told it would be ready to open before this Christmas. 

The meeting was told Apollo Bingo had struggled with the competition brought by the opening of Opera Bingo in Holker Street.

Speaking in favour of the application, planning consultant Christie Fraser said: "Smyths as a leading toy retailer is keen to come to Barrow and provide a much-needed boost to the local economy."

She said the new store would bring 30 year-round jobs and 15 seasonal opportunities and create a "retail destination that attracts visitors from a wide catchment, with links to trade benefits for the town centre".

Addressing any concerns about drawing trade away from the centre of Barrow, she said: "Rather than competing with the town centre, Smyths has the potential to bring new businesses and spending into Barrow.

"The store will have a wide catchment and a significant proportion of its turnover is expected to come from beyond Barrow from towns like Dalton, Ulverston and further afield.

"Even if just one in ten of these visitors spend money in the town centre - which is just 400 metres from Hollywood Park - we can expect a substantial injection of much-needed cash into local pockets."

Council planning manager Jason Hipkiss said: "This unit will act as an attractor and improve the retail offer within the town centre. I suspect if it doesn't come to Barrow, it might end up at Kendal or Carlisle.

"It will attract people from outside the borough and otherwise the unit would remain empty."

He told the meeting it was "available to be open by Christmas".

Smyths Toys has more than 100 shops across Britain.

The plans said Apollo Bingo is due to vacate the unit shortly and has agreed a mutual rolling break in its lease.