AN historic East Lancashire building which has stood empty for almost half a century could be transformed into a centre piece for a town's future.

A businessman or developer is being sought with the flair and vision to see how the Victorian Parade could become a focal point for Waterfoot.

For the first time in decades, the inside of the Victorian arcade is being marketed and the eight shop units and central feature, which resembles a Victorian bandstand, are up for rent at just £12,500 per year.

Victoria Parade was the brainchild of Sir Henry Trickett, who was responsible for putting the Rossendale area on the map in the latter part of the 19th Century.

He used to have a footwear factory at nearby Gaghills and in 1899 he had the arcade built and it was initially named after Sir Henry.

More than two million bricks were used in the arcade's construction along with one and a half miles of steel girders.

The huge triangular building fronts Burnley Road East and Victoria Parade and has 12 shops facing outwards and 18 self-contained flats on the two storeys above the shops.

Some people in the town can still remember going to indoor markets at the arcade, but it is understood the individual shop units have not been used since the 1950s.

Now the inside has a strange presence. Although the shops are empty there is an atmosphere to the interior and it is not difficult to imagine it being a busy place full of hustle and bustle.

Gascoigne estate agency, which has premises in the arcade, is now marketing the internal arcade. The arcade is currently owned by a property investment company, Crestford.

Proprietor Rob Gascoigne, who has been an estate agent for 20 years, said: "This is one of the more unusual properties that I have had to market.

"If this was in Skipton, people would soon see its potential.

"Obviously anyone who takes it on will have a lot of work to do because the units will have to completely renovated and power will need to be installed in some.

"The plan is if we get someone interested then we could have an entrance through Shavings, the pine company, and another from Burnley Road East.

"The roof was replaced about two to three years ago and is sound."

Sales negotiator Janet Hooker said: "Maybe this could be a location for an antiques centre or something artistic.

"I think this arcade could have a lot of possibilities for the future of Waterfoot and if someone did develop it I am sure it would really make the town."

Rob said: "It could look good with the right investment. If someone has the vision then I am sure they could really make something of this place."