A major project to regenerate Fishergate Shopping Centre will cost £40m, it has been revealed, and is set to create 250 jobs.
Bosses at the Preston centre say the revamp is hoped to lead to an increase in spending of up to 30 per cent, and is expected to see a boost in rates payments of about £600,000.
The project is due to be discussed by council planners in the coming months and, if it is given the green light, work should begin immediately.
Leaders say the new-look centre will have bigger and better shops, a restaurant and food cluster and a new cinema.
Owner Benson Elliot will invest £25 million in creating the site, with a further £15 million invested by occupiers such as Primark, TK Maxx and Vue.
It is predicted to create an extra 250 long-term jobs, employ more than 150 construction workers during the building programme and is expected to open early next year.
The Fishergate Shopping Centre, which Benson Elliot has revealed already pays £2.7 million in rates, will pay an estimated extra £600,000 annually in increased payments as a result of a fully occupied, regenerated centre.
The redundant TJ Hughes store will be replaced with six shop units, a new mall linking to a feature entrance from the car park, and five restaurants.
Figures released by Benson Elliot say the 250 extra staff will join the 750 local workers already employed at the centre.
According to the figures, almost 7.5 million people visit the centre annually, spending close to £60 million a year, which is expected to increase by as much as 30 per cent.
The addition of food and leisure is also hoped to bring in visitors after 5pm.
Peter Cornforth, director of retail at Benson Elliot, said: “Our plans enable a positive response to the challenges facing retailers and offer the major brands at Fishergate and beyond the opportunity to plan for the future.
“This is vital for Preston’s future as a shopping destination.
“Customers everywhere now expect great quality stores and brands, decent places to meet and enjoy something to eat or just relax and chat over a coffee, or spend the afternoon with the kids catching a movie.
“That is what this project will deliver. It will bring people with spending power into the city.
“The economic benefits are really important – many councils around the country are entering a time of huge financial challenge and Preston City Council is no different.
“Putting more revenue into its coffers through increased rates will help ease that burden and allow money to be spent where it is needed in keeping services for the community open and running for everyone.
“The jobs this will create will also have a spin-off far beyond the centre, putting money into local workers’ pockets to be spent in Preston’s economy. It will also increase visitor numbers, all of whom have spending power.
“We also believe the development will send out a loud and strong message to other potential private investors that Preston is open for business and that it welcomes investment from all quarters.”
Keith Mitchell, manager of the Fishergate Shopping Centre, added: “It’s important we provide our shoppers with places to eat, drink and relax to meet friends and family as part of their shopping trip, to enhance their overall social experience and present them with an engaging alternative to the convenience of internet shopping.”