AMBITIOUS plans to breathe new life into a former Accrington nightclub were un-veiled this week.
Bolton-based firm Axicon Ltd has submitted exciting plans to Hyndburn Council to transform Churchills on Cannon Street into a state-of-the-art leisure, office and flats complex.
And regeneration chiefs hope the pioneering project will be the catalyst for a wider transformation of the town centre's historic buildings.
If members were to give the proposals the go-ahead, the development would boast a 700sq m basement restaurant, five offices on the ground floor and 14 self-contained flats on the first and second floors.
Up to 20 staff could be employed at the site, which was originally the home of Accrington Conservative Club, and the restaurant would stay open late at the weekends.
Mr Nigel Rix, director of Hyndburn Council's regeneration arm, Hyndburn FIRST, said: "Because this building is so significant in terms of Accrington's history, I have already met the applicant to discuss all the angles."
"The Conservative Club ballroom was one of the best in the country with a magnificent floor and ceiling and we need to discuss how such features can be preserved."
Mr Rix added that other buildings in the same locality were also set to be redeveloped, such as the St James Church School, which is to become a new resource centre. And he predicted this would lead to other old buildings in the town centre being transformed.
He said: "We should note the value of these buildings, which are emblems of historic Accrington, and also ensure they have a viable future."
He said the talks with the Churchills owners had gone well and more were planned after Easter.
Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe welcomed the news, saying: "It is wonderful to know that people wish to invest in Accrington and it answers all those who want to slap the town in the face."
"It would be good news for everybody in Hyndburn if listed buildings such as these were brought back to life."
"I am delighted that the investment the council has put into the town centre is now starting to bear fruit - we're attracting money that we could never have afforded ourselves."
Churchills first closed in July 2002 following the death of Padiham teenager Gavin Tattersall, who was attacked at the club in May that year. It re-opened in the August but after a drop in adult business it became an under-18s venue, before eventually closing for good last November.
Manager Angela Calvert said at the time that the decision was taken because youngsters had been vandalising the premises.