WORK is set to start early in the New Year on a project to transform part of Blackburn town centre.

And another step forward has been taken in the Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Project after the main contractor for the scheme was revealed.

The works will see the rundown area of the town opposite King George's Hall and near Blackburn College turned into a restaurant, bar and leisure quarter.

Forrest Joinery and Construction Contracts Ltd will be working on the restoration and redevelopment of the Blakey Moor terraces and rear landscaping works.

The item was in a report of Blackburn with Darwen Council executive members' decisions and it was also announced that the contract would be worth £1.6million.

Cllr Phil Riley, who is in charge of regeneration at the council, said: "We are pleased that we have been able to award the tender for the works.

"We are expecting work to start on it in the New Year and we are keen to see a project that we have been talking about for a number of years.

"It is at an important stage and it will be good to see visible progress.

"For all sorts of reasons such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has taken a long time and even though a lot of work has been done behind the scenes of the pandemic, we are now at a place where we can look forward."

The project dates back to 2016 when the council was successful in securing approval for £1.5m National Lottery Heritage Funding, matched by a further £1.5m council funding for the delivery of the £3m project.

In the report it mentioned how Forrest Joinery had undertaken the phase one demolition and strip-out works.

Cllr Riley said there had been some setbacks but it was a great project.

He said: "The area around Blakey Moor is developing into a very exciting leisure and cultural quarter.

"Most construction elements (and materials) have gone up in price with Brexit and also due to the pandemic so we noted in the report that there may be a 20 per cent added contribution needed by the council as there is a substantial increase in price for raw materials."

In the report it mentioned that the scheme will be a 12-month project.

The council developed designs that will see the terrace restored and redeveloped creating two units suitable for food and beverage, leisure or retail and the provision of a new rear courtyard area.