MAJOR improvements to the Arndale Centre and Market Hall in Accrington are likely to feature in Hyndburn Council's bid for £20million of government 'Levelling Up Fund' cash.

A report to today's (Wednesday's) cabinet meeting of the authority updating senior councillors on the progress of the application gives a list of projects being considered for inclusion.

The document from council leader Cllr Miles Parkinson said consultants Bradshaw Advisory Limited were well ahead with preparing the bid to ministers.

He said the submission would concentrate on the regeneration of Accrington Town Centre.

It reveals that consultations with businesses and other stakeholders had produced a provisional list of possible projects for inclusion.

They are:

* the redevelopment of The Arndale shopping centre;

 external redevelopment around the Market Hall;

 internal redesigning / repurposing of the Market Hall;

 improved gateway junctions off Eastgate to improve traffic flow into and around the town centre;

 heritage themed improvements along the main town centre gateways;

 further cycle paths linked to existing routes;

 property façade improvements to key town centre heritage buildings and others along the main gateways into the town centre;

 greening of the town centre;

 rejuvenating properties facing the town square and along main gateway routes; and

 rethinking of bus priorities, traffic routes and one-way systems.

Cllr Parkinson revealed that a review by Whitehall experts had 'identified Accrington as having many strengths, particularly its heritage buildings and whilst acknowledging there was a huge amount of enthusiasm and support for the town, they felt the council could improve its partnerships and communications with business leaders and wider community.'

Cllr Parkinson said: "To address this, a wide range of stakeholders were invited to form a new Town Centre Partnership Group, with the initial task of supporting the council in submitting a bid into the Levelling Up Fund but over the longer term, the continued regeneration of Accrington Town Centre."

Cllr Marlene Haworth, leader of Hyndburn Council Conservative group and a member of the bid's steering group, said: "These are very, very exciting times. The next stage is selecting the best projects to actually be included in the submission to government."

As well as writing the bid Bradshaw are working on a 10/15 year strategic Town Centre Investment Plan for Accrington.

Cllr Parkinson revealed in his report that work on the bid had so far cost £290,000.

He said further costs would be incurred including between £19,000 and £26,000 for architectural redevelopment design work.