BUILDING work is about to begin in a £17million project to revitalise a town centre.

The green light has been given for construction work to begin on the Market Walk shopping centre extension in Chorley.

The plans, which include a cinema and businesses new to the town such as Marks & Spencer, are intended to make Chorley fit for the future and strengthen the local economy.

Preparation work, including the remodelling of the Flat Iron car park, has been taking place for the last few months and now the first foundations are about to be dug.

Cllr Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “It’s important we’re now starting to see changes taking place in the town centre as we’ve got to be able to compete with neighbouring towns and cities to ensure our town centre continues to thrive.

“Having a strong town centre is vital to the success and prosperity of the whole borough and we continue to see footfall in Chorley buck the national trend of decline.

"The move of the Flat Iron market into the shopping streets seems to be benefiting shoppers and businesses alike as shopper numbers are increasing.

“Not only will the development make Chorley more attractive to shoppers, it will also develop the leisure offer, which is central to the success of any town centre."

Marks & Spencer Foodhall and fashion retailer TK Maxx are set to join Reel Cinema in the extension to the centre, which is owned and managed by Chorley Council.

Alongside the cinema, the two retailers will take up more than 75 per cent of the extension’s floor space. Discussions are continuing with other retailers and food and drink outlets.

Gary Hall, chief executive of Chorley Council, said: “We are delivering what residents and visitors have told us they want to see so we can attract even more visitors into Chorley and boost the local economy.”