An historic Victorian arcade is set to be restored to its former glory under a £2.5 million scheme.
The Grade-II listed arcade is believed to be the first indoor shopping arcade in the country. But traders say it could soon be beyond repair.
The building, built in 1896, currently stands over half empty – leaving just four traders in business.
Town hall bosses say that the arcade could be restored to its former glory under plans to use lottery money to give an historic makeover to Blackburn Road between Eagle Street.
Traders in the Arcade have welcomed the news.
Paul Fox, owner of nightclub Bohemia, situated above the Arcade, said: "I’m really chuffed and it’s positive news.
"It needs money spent on it but there needs to be a long term strategy about what to do with it. It’s one of the last one’s that hasn’t been done up."
The arcade is currently home to Annie’s cafe, Choices ex-catalogue store, white goods retailer Arcade Washes and a second-hand shop.
Ann Pearn, owner of Annie’s Cafe, warned that if money wasn’t spent soon it would be too late. She added: "It will be really, really good if they can get it. If money isn’t spent on it sooner or later it’s going to get beyond repair. Bring it on."
The £1.5m of lottery funding will be backed up with £500,000 from the council using part of the money generated for public use from the Tesco store development in Accrington.
A further £500,000 will also be sought from town centre businesses which fall under the scheme.
The money will be used to give Blackburn Road back its ‘heritage look’ and reintroduce period features including new shop frontages, street lighting and furniture.
The arcade was built by Edmund Riley and was originally intended as a theatre.
But the presence of the River Hyndburn under its foundations made it an unsafe proposition and an arcade to provide ‘shopping in the dry’ was agreed.
Local historian Mike Dickinson said the Arcade is one of the earliest examples of ‘arcade-style shopping’ in the country.
He said: "Historically it is of amazing value and the architecture is beautiful. You wouldn’t get buildings built today like that.
Councillor Bernard Dawson, chair of Accrington Town Centre Regeneration Board, said the Arcade was one of their ‘biggest concerns’.
He said: "It’s a vital link and if we can crack that then it will be great. You can envisage what it would be like if it was done up.
"It’s the gateway to the rest of Accrington."
The bid was submitted earlier this week and a decision is expected to be made early in the new year.
Arcade owner InShops said it would be ‘more than happy’ to acquire funding to improve the building.
A spokesman said: "We would be interested in funding to renovate and refurbish the Arcade and are looking forward to speaking to the relevant people about that."