Visitors to Chorley town centre will soon have a brand new shopping area with a cinema, restaurants and quality retailers after councillors gave the green light to press ahead with the Market Walk extension.
The £16 million investment will also see major improvements to the appearance of the area and a new decked car park to accommodate an increase in shoppers.
Shopping centre owner Chorley Council had been reviewing its multi-million pound development amid changes taking place in the wider retail market but strong interest from several businesses has set the plans back on track.
Councillor Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “It was important we took time to reflect on the progress that had been made but by the very nature of projects like this it is going to change and we have to manage that by adapting and amending our approach just as residents would do in the course of their own interests.
“It is brilliant news for the borough that we can now get on and deliver all the exciting elements that will give our town centre a long term future and broaden its appeal to visitors.
“We’ve learnt lessons from what we’ve been doing over the last few months and we’ve responded to comments and suggestions from traders and shoppers, particularly around parking, to ensure the progress we make is in the best interests of the town centre.
The updates to the plans over the last few weeks include:
· Marks and Spencer has re-approached the council as it still wants to come to Chorley and discussions are on-going
· Firm interest from another three businesses to complement the already-secured Reel Cinemas
· A decked car park will be built on Friday Street/Portland Street creating an additional 149 spaces
· The Royal Oak building will be demolished in the coming weeks to create an extra 28 parking spaces
· The proposals to create a civic square and relocate the United Reformed Church have been re-prioritised to allow delivery of the extension and associated improvements to the appearance of the town centre first
· A commitment to undertake a consultation with market traders and visitors to the town to see how we can evolve the markets to make the most of the wider improvements
“I’d like to reassure the United Reformed Church and its congregation that we will involve them as things develop and having met with them last week we’re keen to support them to find a new home as part of our town centre plans that supports them to achieve their ambitions and continue with the important services they are providing to the community,” said Councillor Bradley.
“We’re also aware that we need to look at how we develop our historic markets as how people use town centres changes and we’ll be speaking with traders and visitors to the town to see how we can best keep them and the unique independent traders at the heart of everything we do.
“We will now start work on sorting the new parking arrangements so that is all in place before we start on the extension and I’d expect building work to start in the late summer.
“If we can translate the interest we have now into lets we will not only have a much better offer in the town centre, particularly in the evening, but also a profitable scheme for the people of Chorley and the key to it is doing that.”
It is expected the new development would be open in late 2019 in time for the Christmas shopping period.