NEWS that Accrington's historic Market Hall is to receive a £1M facelift has been welcomed by traders.
Council leader Peter Britcliffe told a Cabinet meeting that funding is in place to revamp the building to make it more attractive to modern shoppers, while keeping its impressive historical features.
The council will appoint design consultants and initial blueprints for the refurbishment will be discussed fully with market traders.
A project working group has already been formed with traders' representatives and the market management team to make sure that all aspects are discussed fully, including the timing of the start of the work.
Neville Singer, chairman of Accrington Market Traders Association, said: "We are very pleased that we are going to get the facelift because it's certainly overdue.
"We haven't seen any plans yet but we hope there's enough money to do a good-quality job.
"We'd like to see new floors and interior decoration and something to tie in with the outside market more.
"We look forward with interest to seeing the plans and we hope they consult us at an early stage as to whether they are suitable."
Improvements, which it is hoped will be completed by Sepember 2009, will include:
- Bringing the mezzanine floor into use, creating 3,000 square feet of additional space.
- Providing a lift and escalators for easier access to the first floor.
- Improving the lighting and heating systems.
- Creating new stalls and improving others for existing traders, and adding more facilities for shoppers.
The council hopes to attract prestigious names in retail into the Market Hall.
Councillor Britcliffe said: "It is a truly impressive building, of which Hyndburn people are proud, but it's now in need of some serious investment to bring it into the 21st century."
He said that the council had listened to traders and shoppers, who have said that, although the Market Hall provides an extensive range of products, it needs new investment to give an even greater range of goods and services.
Councillor Britcliffe added: "Accrington is already bucking the national trend, with retail shopping numbers up in the town centre compared with other towns where they are dropping.
"A number of new shops have already moved into Accrington and this £1M investment comes on the back of the recent major refurbishment of Broadway, reflecting our confidence in Accrington.
"As I've said before, Accrington is open for business and this huge investment is further proof of that."
Councillor Marlene Haworth, Cabinet member with responsibility for markets, said she was delighted, adding: "It's been a real pet project of mine since I came on the council.
"The Market Hall is the jewel in Accrington's crown and I'm so glad we are going to do something to it. I'm thrilled to bits."