A MASTERPLAN to transform Accrington into a ‘vibrant, bustling and proud’ market town has been unveiled.

Town centre bosses say the Proposed Town Centre Investment Plan (TCIP) sets out potential investments of around £70m.

Included in the plan are 18 projects proposed for the centre of Accrington which could help to ‘generate up to £9.6million for the local economy each year, entice up to 820,000 visitors annually and support hundreds of new jobs’.

They want the document, which councillors will be asked to approve on Thursday evening, to underpin any future bids for grant funding, particularly from the Government's Levelling Up funds.

David Sanderson, interim chair of the Accrington Town Centre Partnership board and CEO of The Rank Foundation, said: “For future growth and prosperity, it is key Hyndburn Borough Council are ready, waiting to bid and are part of various funding sources, such as the Government’s Levelling Up Fund or Heritage Lottery Grants.

“The 18 interventions listed in Accrington’s TCIP are all opportunities for investment and funding, which I am looking forward to seeing taken forward over the coming years. The TCIP aims to improve everyday life for the people of Hyndburn and I am very proud to have been part of this journey.”

Some of the schemes included in the plan are:

- The Market Hall and town square would form the centre of the ‘Accrington Acre’.

- The Market Hall to be refurbished and transformed into a higher-end eating, drinking and cultural venue with more modern facilities for small independent traders and restoring worn and defective aspects of the building.

- Potential for transforming 43-59 Blackburn Road and 2-18 Church Street, with upper floors converted into working space to support entrepreneurs, independent traders or public sector providers. A museum or arts space may be created.

- Burton’s Chambers brought back into full use by potentially repurposing its ground floor premises into independent cafes, restaurants and higher-end retailers.

- The Victorian Arcade renovated to attract higher-end independent retailers and traders that complement those already operating on Warner Street.

- Make facade improvements to the Town Hall and renovate the interior of the building, bringing it up to a standard suitable for rent on the open market.

- Potentially pedestrianising Warner Street to improve the shopping experience and increase the capacity of the street to accommodate growing numbers of shoppers and visitors.

- The former Yorkshire Bank building in Blackburn Road brought back into use, potentially as the location for a restaurant or cafe, a community space, museum or commercial office.

- Demolition of the old Charlie Brown store off Abbey Street, to be replaced with the creation of a car park, and a small amount of green space.

- A park and ride scheme to possibly be established.

- The former Accrington police station restored and repurposed for hospitality and/or another visitor attraction, such as an escape room.

- Platt’s Lodge to become a water attraction with visitor centre/cafe.

- Further down the line, making changes to the 'unpopular' Arndale shopping centre.

Hyndburn Council leader Miles Parkinson said: "I could not be more pleased with the plan itself and the individuals who have come together to make the recommendations detailed in the document.

"We are very fortunate to have the deputy lieutenant of Lancashire, David Sanderson, as interim chair of the Accrington Town Centre Partnership board, along with many others who have looked into and curated the data required for a 10-year strategy.

"This will play a huge part in our levelling up bid and, again, I'm so pleased to see the document come to Full Council where, hopefully, a resolution can be found."

Mr Sanderson said: “We want Accrington to be a vibrant, bustling and proud market town underpinned by the many strengths that it already has to offer and the new ones yet to be built.

“We are surrounded by beautiful Pennine countryside with outstanding architectural highlights and a rich industrial history. We want to tap into the visitor economy as the quickest way to improve the town, opportunities for local people and wealth coming into the local economy.

“We want to provide a strong anchor and focal point for the town centred around the existing heritage assets of our Grade II listed Town Hall, Victorian Market Hall and the newly redeveloped town square.

“The people of Accrington deserve a town that they are proud to call home and that offers a wide range of local restaurants, independent shops, green spaces and activities for all the family, not only to them but to attract the visitors that will make our town a destination once again.”