FRESH hopes have now emerged over the future of the stalled Oval shopping centre in Burnley, councillors have been told.

Talks over the shopping complex, on the former Pioneer site off Curzon Street, have been ongoing for months with little signs of progress, to the frustration of councillors and traders.

But Coun Peter Doyle, Burnley council's finance executive member, says an announcement over new developments could be imminent, involving two unidentified high street names.

He told a full council meeting: "Our partners have been talking to two large retailers and are hopeful that the discussions will lead to something."

And following requests from opposition councillors - Labour leader Andy Tatchell and his deputy Mark Townsend are part of a working group on The Oval centre - he has pledged to reveal any details to them when they become available.

More than a year ago Debenhams announced that it would not be coming to Burnley - the Lancashire Telegraph later revealed that this was because the department store giant did not want to harm profits at its Blackburn store.

But since the Debenham deal foundered, there have been no concrete signs of progress concerning the old Co-op site.

Coun Townsend has previously accused the development of "going nowhere fast", regarding the continuing failures to secure an anchor' store for The Oval.

But the ruling coalition has blamed an "economic downturn" for the failure to make progress on the development.

Meanwhile improvements are in the pipeline for the nearby Burnley Market, just yards from the Pioneer land.

Planning applications are expected from Sapphire Ltd for remodelling the north side of Market Square later this year.