Accrington is set to bid for a slice of £1m to transform its high street and become a ‘Portas Pilot’ town.
Borough bosses are putting Accrington forward as a test case for the recommendations outlined in Mary Portas’ review, aimed at halting the decline of Britain’s high streets and the closure of local shops.
Last year, the retail guru, who made her name on BBC’s Mary Queen of Shops, came up with a 28-point list of recommendations including more free parking, national market days and the creation of ‘town teams’.
If selected, Accrington will be one of 12 areas to share in a £1m pot of cash aimed at breathing life into its shopping areas.A decision is expected later this year.
Mary Portas is encouraging towns to come forward with their transforming ‘vision’.
She said: "I want the first 12 town teams to challenge the old ways of working, experiment, take risks and reaffirm their place at the heart of a community. A place we all want to be and can be proud of."
Deputy council leader Clare Pritchard said Accrington would be a ‘great candidate’ for a Portas Pilot town.
She said: "We’re on Mary Portas’s wavelength already with our plans to bring community life into Accrington town centre with our Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) bid, which is about making sure the heritage and environment of the town centre is improved.
"The development of the Accrington Area Action Plan, recent developments like the Market Hall refurbishment, plus recently approved proposals for a new bus station, along with free parking, are all factors which will help us in our bid to grow and revitalise Accrington."
Michael Damms, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce based in Accrington, added: "I think that it’s a really good idea to put in the bid. Accrington has got large residential areas but the bit that seems to underperform is the town centre."