Traders in Accrington are calling for action to restore one of the town’s crowning jewels.
The grade-two listed Victorian Arcade, built in 1896, was one of the first of its kind in the country and housed the town’s post office until 1922.
The worn building currently stands more than half empty with nine empty units, leaving just three traders in business – Annie’s cafe, Choices ex-catalogue store and white goods retailer Arcade Washes.
Ann Pearn, owner of Annie’s cafe, said: "If you were to pick this place up and put it in Leeds or Bath then it would be booming. Why is it being left to go to rack and ruin? You have got metal fatigue, plaster coming off. It’s a cherished part of our history, our heritage..
"I would like to see some traditional shops with individuality. Places where people would go out of their way to come to. But you are not going to get that calibre of place until the whole thing is lifted."
Jim Saron, owner of nearby menswear shop Bailey’s, said: "The fact that it’s a Victorian arcade should make it an attraction but it’s the exact opposite.
"It is absolutely disgusting to see the state of it and the lack of investment and maintenance is now coming home to roost. The roof is falling down and is very dangerous.
"They have spent money on the Market Hall, Broadway and the Arndale Centre now has hardly any empty units but this side of town is being absolutely neglected."
Warner Street trader and Hyndburn councillor Colette McCormack believes the run-down Arcade is symptomatic of a wider problem.
She said: "My customers have grown and tell me they don’t like coming into Accrington at the moment because it is so empty. It doesn’t give a good impression as it’s a beautiful building, especially if it was restored to its former glory.
"The arcade is a link way and if they lose those shops they will never get them back again.
"It’s one of the nicest parts of town but there is only a few shops and a cafe there at the moment. Who else would come to Accrington under those conditions?
"Right now we need to revamp this building because it is a jewel in our crown."
Speaking at a council meeting on March 9, Coun Bernard Dawson said: "I am concerned about the arcade. Most of the units have shut. People are going into the arcade and they are shut."
Coun Peter Britcliffe added: "I deplore how some of these premises look. But I think the good news for me is that people are coming into the town.
"We are concerned about empty shops and that is why we are trying to bring events into the town centre. We need to stay positive to bring people into the town centre."
A spokesperson for arcade owners InShops Ltd said: "We are always looking at investing in the building and we are discussing things with retailers. We are very proactive in trying to attract business to the arcade as we don’t accrue any income while units lie empty.
"We want to see more businesses but we appreciate it is a very difficult time."