REFURBISHMENT works forming the first part of the Blakey Moor heritage scheme are set to be completed by mid-March.

Work has been going on at 35 Northgate in Blackburn in recent months after a £91,000 grant was awarded.

The building was last open as Baroque but formerly known as Gladstone’s and The Ribblesdale Hotel.

The grant was the first handed out under the five-year Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Project which aims to revive the area with a network of cafes, coffee houses and bars alongside public spaces for residents and visitors to relax.

Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss, Cllr Phil Riley, said: “The property is being offered for retail/leisure use with the second phase of works undertaken by a new operator, in due course.

“It has been discovered that the 1890s building was designed by James Birtwistle, a prominent early architect whose practice designed King Georges Hall, Blackburn’s courts building and the Port of Liverpool building.

“The council is working up plans for 29, 48 and 50 Northgate and 14 Lord Street West to go out to tender in February.

“The Blakey Moor public realm work is now underway with the contractor due to complete by the end of March.”

The scheme aims to restore Blakey Moor Terrace, Northgate and Lord Street West, bringing 25 vacant properties back into commercial use, and give a facelift to King George’s Hall.

The Townscape Heritage Grants Panel is an independent group of volunteers who will oversee the allocation and approval of the £3 million funding secured to deliver the heritage-led regeneration project.

The £91,000 has been used to undertake essential structural repairs, conservation works to the external brick and stonework and restoration of the original timber framed windows.

An additional £70,000 from the council matched the grant funding to complete phase I and see the property brought back to its former glory.