WORK has started to open up traffic around Northgate in Blackburn town centre as part of a £750,000 scheme.

And this fresh picture shows just how the impressive revamp of the historic Blakey Moor and Northgate area around King George's Hall will look.

This phase of the Department for Transport and council-funded project will see Northgate opened up to through traffic, following previous consultations with residents and businesses over how the town centre works for drivers and pedestrians.

Groundworks are in progress and have started to unearth the old Northgate section of highway.

Ducting works are almost complete at Victoria Street and Barbara Castle Way which will see the change in direction of Victoria Street, to be delivered at a later stage of the project.

Other work includes realignment of Sudell Cross to allow travel towards King George's Hall and new development areas, as well as more on-street parking for Sudell Cross businesses.

There will also be public space and pavement work which tie in with the Blakey Moor improvements in front of King George's Hall, as well as the reversal of Tontine Street to enable direct access from Barbara Castle Way for traders.

The Victoria Street/Northgate Link Road project will complete by March 2020.

Parallel works are also underway on The Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Project which will see transformation in the area with the restoration of key heritage buildings and public spaces.

Works will also see the removal of the mature oak tree on Northgate which has been diagnosed with a fungal disease, but this will be replaced with a similar oak tree.

Cllr Phil Riley, executive member for regeneration and growth, said: “This work is making some much-needed changes to the Northgate area and is the start of an exciting package of works that will lead to a real transformation of the area as it runs alongside the Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage project.

“The public spaces and traffic improvements will make a big difference to the area.

“We had hoped to retain the mature oak on Northgate and sympathetically designed the public realm scheme around it.

“Unfortunately, the council’s tree officer has identified disease in the tree that cannot be treated. The plans will be revised to include a large replacement oak and seating area and the existing tree felled prior to nesting season.”

The project was backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund to refurbish historic buildings, including King George's Hall, the former Baroque public house, Blakey Moor terrace and properties on Northgate and Lord Street West.

Council bosses hope public space improvement works to Blakey Moor and Northgate will see the area around King George's Hall better defined with high quality paving, improved lighting and seating.

The historic statue of William Gladstone will remain on the site with planting and a grassed areas.

Vehicle access will be retained but bosses say wider pavements will make better use of the space and provide a more appropriate setting for some of the town’s most important historic buildings.

The £750,000 scheme is jointly funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire Economic Partnership and is scheduled to complete at the end of May.