A TOWN CENTRE arcade which has sat vacant for years is being converted into shops and offices in a £700,000 project.

Campbells Amusements on Lord Street West, Blackburn, has been derelict for more than a decade and work has started to transform the building.

Lukman Vika of Compass Architectural and Consultants Ltd ,who is heading the project, said the building had become an eyesore.

He said the changes would be a welcome addition to the town centre and do justice to the recent regeneration works to Northgate Conservation Area.

He said, “I don’t think it has been occupied for over ten years and had fallen into disrepair.

“Being a Blackburn lad myself, it is great that we are helping to redevelop and renovate the building.

“The new retail units will have access from both sides with the upper floors utilised as offices.”

Renovations will include treatment to the external elevations, roof and internal alterations.

It is envisaged that the most of the work will be complete before Christmas.

The building houses a blue plaque to notify that it was a farmhouse and early home occupied by Sir Robert Peel (1750-1830), father of Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister.

The building will be best be remembered for housing an array of arcade machines and pool and snooker tables.

Mr Lukman added: “We have had a lot of people inquire about the arcade machines and snooker tables that were there previously. Unfortunately those were removed a long time ago, before we took over.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Phil Riley, said the news was a welcome boost for the town centre.

He said: “This is great news for the Blackburn. We are really pleased and it is a great confidence vote in the town.

“The area has already undergone major transformations.

“The buildings hosting Prism Gallery and the former Community Clothing shop are being renovated as part of the Heritage Lottery scheme with the intention of providing creative arts spaces in the town.”

The building is bound by Cardwell Place and Corporation Street is only yards away from the new £6.5m eight-screen Reel Cinemas Complex which is also due to open by the end of the year.