WORK could start on a multi-million pound town centre scheme in March next year, it has been announced.

A consultation with traders in Bacup is continuing as the final details for the regeneration of the area into a pedestrian shared space is finalised.

If it is all signed off by Rossendale Council and Lancashire County Council later this year, work to transform Burnley Road, Yorkshire Street, St James' Square and Market Street will start in March 2018.

The project has been in the pipeline for a number of years and has attracted both support and objections from the town's traders and residents.

The Bacup Town Heritage Initiative (THI) fund has been back by £1.5million from the Lottery, £400,000 from the borough and £100,000 from the county.

A final decision is expected to be made by County hall's cabinet later this year.

If that is given, street surfaces will be replaced with materials more in tune with the appearance of the surrounding buildings, the roundabout will be removed and narrow pavements and busy roads will be changed with the aim of allowing traffic to flow more freely.

Space will also be made to accommodate on-street activities such as stalls, fairs and street cafes.

Cllr Andy MacNae, the chairman of Bacup THI, said: "There has been overwhelming support for this project and people think there is a real need for this.

"There has been negativity online about it but everyone I have spoken to is behind this.

"The process is still on-going at this time and this week we have been talking to town centre traders to hear their opinions.

"Nothing has been officially signed off yet but we are hopeful that work will start in March 2018.

"The people I have spoken to do not think the town centre is as good as it could be and we all want it to be more prosperous.

"It is much more than just a traffic scheme, it's about making the town more attractive and a better space for everyone."

However, objections have been raised over the suitability of the project and whether it is the right direction for the town centre to go.

Cllr Peter Steen has voiced his and other people's concerns recently and has said the project is not wanted.

He said: "I posted an update on Facebook the other day and so far it has more than 600 comments and the vast majority of them are against this plan.

"It would be 33 weeks of disruption and it's just not feasible.

"The loading and unloading restrictions would harm businesses.

"I will be talking to the new county council cabinet member for highways when they are announced next week about this.

"I'm still hopeful it will be changed to something people are happier with."