Shop fronts on a key route into Preston could be given a facelift amid attempts to revitalise the area.
Work costing more than £1m is hoped to boost the New Hall Lane gateway into the city, with changes to the road layout, parking and the local environment.
Now community leaders are offering shops on the street interest-free loans, to spruce up the facades and add to the improvement of the area, being carried as part of the City Deal projects.
The Friends of Fishwick and St Matthew’s (FOFS), who were given £1m in lottery cash to boost community work, are offering money to shopkeepers along the New Hall Lane highway scheme.
Martyn Rawlinson, vice chairman of the group, said: “They will be able to take out an interest-free loan to revive their shop fronts, which will include doors, windows, signage, canopies, to renew them and to make the shopping area look better.
“It will be alongside the new highway scheme, and it’s the first environmental project FOFS have done with the £1m.” The loans will be dealt with by Lancashire Community Finance, with the project beginning in September this year.
Shop owners or tenants will be given about a year to apply for a loan, which will be paid directly to the company renovating the shop fronts.
Mr Rawlinson, who is also a councillor for Fishwick ward, said: “It’s a real opportunity for perhaps some of the shop owners to upgrade the shop fronts, to encourage more shoppers.
“Pavements are being widened and it will be a more pleasant environment all round, so we hope some of them will take it up.
“This is a real opportunity to get it done and pay the money back over a couple of years interest free, to help themselves and help the whole area.”
Mr Rawlinson said the street would look “fantastic” after the City Deal project was complete, but said: “Some of the buildings along that section don’t look very good, so hopefully this will help.
“But we need those shopkeepers to pick up the baton.”
So far, a £25,000 cash pot has been created for the loans.
Mr Rawlinson said: “It potentially could have a big impact if those shops that need renovating get it done.
“It’s been one of the main complaints to local councillors for many years.”