The occupiers surrendered the lease during the pandemic meaning the building was derelict and with no prospect of new tenants taking it on, Chorley Council has been looking at how the site can once again be a focal point for the town centre.
The immediate plans are for it to become a temporary car park to support the recovery of the town while longer term options are assessed in light of the changing nature of town centres.
Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “Visitors to the town centre will have seen we’ve been busy demolishing the buildings so we can give that part of town a new lease of life.
“The bingo hall had been an attraction for many years but the building had slipped into a terrible state of repair and it was riddled with asbestos meaning it was not fit for anything and would have just stood empty and become an eyesore.
“People will know we have been looking at that whole site between the Town Hall, Cleveland Street, High Street and St Laurence’s Church to transform into something that can benefit our whole town centre and become a catalyst for further improvements.
“We think it is best to put it to use in the short term as a temporary car park while we start to see more people visiting and review what we do beyond that given how much the pandemic has changed the role of the town centre.”
Bulldozers have been on the site, opposite the Town Hall, on Market Street for several weeks with the building now flattened and attention will turn to levelling the ground making it suitable for temporary parking.
Plans have been mooted for a civic square and more recently a development with the potential for apartments and shop units and council bosses are now revisiting the options.
“The aim is to have the car park ready in November for the Christmas lights switch on,” explained Coun Bradley.
“We’d be keen to hear what people think would work best for our town centre.
“We want to make sure we take time to get it right as the way people use town centres will have changed for ever following the pandemic and this gives us a real opportunity to bring something to Chorley that will help support the longer term recovery and complement the recent developments in Market Walk and improvements to the markets.
“We’ll be refreshing the town centre masterplan to help inform those plans along with looking at external funding, which is in part why we haven’t taken a final decision as to what the site will be.”
The proposals to turn the site into a car park are due to be discussed at September’s council meeting.