Design ideas for a new landscaped events space in a Ribble Valley town are to be produced this summer, after borough councillors backed an initial £10,000 contract for work by a company.

Towneley Garden in Longridge is the location for a proposed event space to be supported by government cash from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. But the cash must be spent by next year and councillors have raised some concerns about time deadlines,

Ribble Valley has had yearly allocations of £238,000, £477,000 and £1.25million over three financial years from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Projects supported have included Mardale Playing Fields and a cycle pump track in Longridge, CCTV and an education fund in Whalley, and Castle Street upgrades in Clitheroe, in a joint scheme with Lancashire County Council.

In the latest phase, projects earmarked for cash include £250,000 to upgrade Clitheroe’s market place. And there other ideas too. But around £550,000 is currently unallocated and some projects are not yet started, according to a council update.

This week, officers and councillors discussed the latest situation. And some questions were raised about the time involved in considering and confirming schemes.

For Towneley Garden, councillors agreed to award an initial £10,000 contract to a company called DK Design Associates for design and public consultation work this summer. Physical planting and landscaping contracts will be dealt with separately.

DK Design Associates has produced some early visual ‘mood boards’ with examples of elements that might be included. But it will now look at more detailed designs, materials and planting for Longridge. This is likely with a focus on creating a flexible, multi-purpose space rather than formal tiered structures.

Ribble Valley Council’s latest Policy & Finance Committee meeting heard that the companies were approached earlier this year to provide Longridge quotes. But none provided a quote. However DK Design Associates contacted the council about its interest, suggesting a ‘reimagined’ space and involving the community.

DK Design Associates created an early visual ‘mood board’ and a meeting was held in May with Longridge Town Council. Councillors Jim Rogerson, who is also a borough councillor, and Robert Walker were there. The town council is interested in developing the ideas further and a quote from DK Design Associates was requested.

At Ribble Valley Council this week, planning and economic officer Nicola Hopkins said: “It was a challenge to get quotes for the Longridge events space. But a man from DK Design Associates is interested. He has spoken to Longridge Town Council and his fee for design and consultation work would be £10,000. If councillors are happy for him to do the work, we can allocate the contract?”

Conservative Coun Susan Bibby said: “I’m happy with the DK Design Associates suggestions, But I wonder if we could have a time-scale for the second and third stages?”

And Independent Coun Jim Rogerson said: “How long do you see this taking? This is a project we have talked about for a while. People in the town are asking when will this happen? Is there a time indication we can give to residents?”

Ms Hopkins said: “Stage one is done. Stage two will be design work over the summer and speaking to Longridge Town Council and the community. Final designs will be in the autumn and we would target the planting season. The money must be spent by 2025. I made that clear to the designer.”

Coun Rogerson added: “The designer said he would need about one month, then we can get it out for consultation. Until we have something [specific] to work with, we cannot move on. I would urge councillors to progress this.”

Conservative Coun Simon Hore, deputy council leader, recommended the officers’ advice to approve the Longridge design contract. He said: “Hopefully DK Design Associates will come up with some interesting ideas. ”

Councillors supported this in a vote.

Other projects linked to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund include improvements at Barrow Village Hall. Ms Hopkins said a full planning application is linked to this and progress is happening. Other ideas include upgrading a play area at Salthill, footpath improvements at Brungerley Park near the River Ribble and new toilet and baby changing facilities at St Mary’s Community Centre in Clitheroe.