EMPTY shops in the Victory Centre in Nelson are to be targeted at young entrepreneurs.

Pendle Council is to spend some of its £100,000 funding from the Mary Portas pilot to try to fill up the empty building.

The parade was opened in 1993 but retailers have deserted it in recent years, with the Post Office and Argos moving out in the past two years.

Now all that remains is a bookmakers and an Asian fashion store, of more than a dozen units.

Hanna Latty, Pendle Council’s town centres officer, said: “Through the Portas pilot process, we have managed to secure commitment from Blackcrown Properties Limited, who own The Victory Centre in Nelson, and the centre’s managing agent, Conway Relf.

Blackcrown and Conway Relf are open to negotiation in terms of attracting affordable, short-term lettings and are supportive of any improvement projects which aim to generate higher footfall in the town centre.”

As well as trying to get young entrepreuners in, the centre will also be used to attract artists who can use units on a short-term lease to display their work.

Hanna Latty said: “We will target Victory Centre lettings at young entrepreneurs and artists to introduce new and diverse uses to attract footfall.

“The pilot would help us offer low-cost premises with easy in/easy out licences, professional business support, materials and assistance with marketing.

“Two of the empty units will be dedicated to 3-month artist commissions ensuring they create exciting projects which generate high footfall.

“These commissions will act as ‘anchor’ projects to attract lettings in our low-cost units.”