THE vacant top two floors of a landmark town centre building could be set to be converted into 30 studio flats for young professional single people.

The owner of The Burtons Building on Blackburn Road in Accrington would then restore its frontage as part of a Heritage Lottery-funded initiative.

The plan by London-based Stuart Hammond is in keeping with similar moves to revive ‘urban living’ seen with the former Lancashire Telegraph offices in Blackburn and in The Weavers Triangle in Burnley.

Hyndburn Council’s Labour leader Cllr Miles Parkinson and his Conservative opposition counterpart Cllr Tony Dobson have welcomed the proposals as part of the planned revival of the wider town centre.

The inter-war former store opposite Accrington Town Hall has shops on the ground floor, which will be retained, while the upper floors have been empty for more than 10 years since their use for antiques trading ended.

The design and access statement submitted with the planning application says the design of the 30 new studio flats with communal areas ‘has specifically been chosen to serve young singles providing an affordable just-starting out rental’.

It adds: “This is believed to be viable for the area and also enable the number of units to be created that will make the scheme financially viable.”

The statement makes clear that if planning permission is granted the current frontage and distinctive window will be retained as part of a restoration in keeping with the council’s £3million PALS Centenary Townscape Heritage Initiative for which grants are available.

Cllr Parkinson said: “This is good news for an iconic building in Accrington town centre.

"The scheme will have to go through the planning process to ensure the apartments are suitable but it should help bring back urban living to Accrington as is happening in Blackburn and Burnley.

"Getting young single professionals to live in Accrington town centre are part of our plans.”

Cllr Dobson said: “It is good news provided the flats are for young single professionals working locally or commuting to the cities of Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. Bringing this kind of urban living to Accrington would be good.”

The scheme proposes a new central wheelchair-accessible entrance hall with lifts and cycle store.