The multi-million pound regeneration of one of Blackburn’s most iconic town centre buildings is set to take a major step forward next week.

Councillors have been recommended to approve the planning application for the redevelopment of The Exchange in King William Street.

The £9 million-plus scheme will transform the decaying building, which opened in 1865 as the town’s cotton exchange.

The lower ground floor - formerly Tiggi's restaurant - will be redeveloped for community and work spaces with an upgraded cafe.

The main storey will be restored to its Victorian Gothic glory and become an open plan performance, exhibition and meeting space.

A new mezzanine floor with a cafe/bar will be created while the 1920's block - used as back office space in the building's days as the Apollo 5 cinema - will be refurbished with a roof terrace and bar.

The existing imposing octagonal towered main entrance at the junction of King William Street, Exchange Street and Museum Street will be restored.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's planning committee has been recommended by officers to grant permission for the extensive refurbishment applied for by Caer Butler, director of operations for The Exchange and Re:Source, the charity behind the project.

The approval includes a set of conditions aimed at preserving the building's historic and architectural significance in response to concerns expresses by the authority's heritage advisor.

A report to councillors says: "The proposed developments involve the complete refurbishment of the Grade II listed former Cotton Exchange/Apollo Cinema.

"The proposed works include alterations to create a mixed-use community and performance space.

"Partial demolition of the 1920's block roof would be implemented. Various external improvement works, and the installation of external lighting are also proposed.

"The application site is a Grade II listed building that is located within Blackburn Town Centre and the Northgate Conservation Area.

"Internally, the building is currently in a state of disrepair due to the unsympathetic removal of cinema fixtures previously.

"The interior has been extensively altered and remodelled over the years.

"The proposal seeks consent for interventions to repair and conserve the heritage asset while introducing new elements and alterations to facilitate its reuse.

"The submission documents note that ‘the proposed philosophy is one which conserves historic fabric as found, in addition to repairing/reinstating lost/damaged materials to match existing'.

"It also proposes to add to this richness of textures, colours and stories with a bold and contemporary palette of new materials, which are both complementary to the historic fabric and 'illustrative of a vibrant new chapter’.

"They further add that ‘key historic features of the Exchange will be conserved, consolidated and reinstated to ensure that the architectural and historic character of the asset is retained'.

"Repairs would be carried out on a ‘like for like’ basis, with matching stone used where applicable.

"The proposals include the retention and repair of most of the existing fabric, particularly the original elements of the original parts of the building (with some alterations to the later additions), all of which are positive elements.

"Given the existing much altered and raw finish of the building, retaining the scarred aesthetic would be an honest interpretation of the building’s historical development.

"Largely, the proposals would retain the sense of space upon arrival, with the vaulted ceiling, Victorian Gothic window and tracery and rose window retained.

"The heritage advisor has identified that the raw and altered state of the building would require some finishing work. A condition is therefore recommended to control those details.

"The wider proposals would see the retention and repair of the key structure, retaining the important detail and providing a new viable re-use for the important town centre building.

"This brings forward considerable positive public benefits that will improve the visual appearance of the wider building and provide an uplift to this part of town.

"Most importantly, the scheme will help sustain the longer-term significance and conservation of the building."