Visions of future set to become a reality for town projects

How Chorley's youth zone could look
How Chorley's youth zone could look
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Building work could soon be a familiar sight in Chorley town centre as three major projects look set to get underway.

Chorley Council is preparing to start work on the planned £12.9m extension to Market Walk shopping centre, a youth zone and an extra care facility for elderly people.

Plans for Market Walk

Plans for Market Walk

It means there are some big changes on the way for the town.

Coun Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “There are three projects that we should hopefully see the start of delivery, so 2016 will be an exciting time in Chorley.

“It will have its problems - people will have to change the way they do things because whenever you do work, that inconvenience comes with it, but we believe it’s inconvenience for the better.

“I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who say how much Chorley has changed for the better - business people, visitors and residents.”

Coun Alistair Bradley

Coun Alistair Bradley

The council bought Market Walk for £23m in 2013 and Coun Bradley says that record numbers of people are visiting the shopping centre.

“It shows that if we put the effort in, the people of Chorley will support their town centre,” he said.

Planning permission was granted in September to build an extension with seven units.

There will be restaurants and shops, with Reel Cinema already committing to opening a six-screen complex.

Discussions are continuing with national businesses interested in being part of the new development, but other tenants have not yet been revealed.

Coun Bradley said: “Some of the shops that people have previously said, ‘Why have we not had this in Chorley?’, we are very close to getting them in, and the cinema as well.”

The council has pledged that work will not start until 75 per cent of the units have been signed up on pre-lets.

Construction work could start in early 2016, with the new businesses expected to be open by Easter in 2017.

Preparatory work has already started with the creation of a new car park on Cleveland Street, on the site of the former Amalfi restaurant, which had been derelict since the row of shops on High Street was demolished following a fire at the restaurant in 2012.

The new car park opened a few weeks ago and provides the first of a number of additional parking spaces around the town centre to replace those lost when the extension is built on the Flat Iron car park.

Also on the way is a youth zone, with a planning application expected to be submitted in January.

It is being created in a partnership between the council and the Arts Partnership, Lancashire County Council and OnSide.

It will be a purpose-built facility for people aged eight to 19, and people aged up to 25 with disabilities, and is proposed for the site of the Arts Partnership and Leigh Arms, on Railway Street.

There will be around 20 activities on offer each night for 50p a visit, such as football, boxing, dancing, climbing, creative arts, music, drama and employability training.

Youth zone chairman Andrew Turner, who is also chairman of the Chorley Group, said it would be ‘a massive boost’ for young people in Chorley.

Proposals for the youth zone, named Inspire, were revealed for the first time at a public exhibition last month.

Coun Bradley said: “I’m excited by it. It’s a great chance to do something that’s been missing from this town for generations.

“We have targeted an opening of spring 2017 and there is no reason why that shouldn’t go ahead.”

In addition, a £9m extra care scheme for elderly people is planned for the Fleet Street long-stay car park as part of the masterplan.

A total of 65 purpose-built flats will be built there - 47 one-bedroomed and 18 two-bed apartments - for people who have extra care needs, learning or physical disabilities, or dementia.

The council is putting forward more than £6m and is waiting to find out if a bid to the Homes And Communities Agency for funding has been successful.

But Coun Bradley said there is a back-up plan if they do not get the money.

Lancashire County Council is also now involved, after previously saying it would not provide funding as they had not received “a sufficiently robust business case.”

Coun Bradley said: “County Hall are talking to us about what they can do to make it come forward sooner rather than later, so I hope we can see some delivery starting shortly.”