Market traders have welcomed new plans to overhaul the city centre and create a new market quarter.
Leaders say they have “pushed the boat out” to provide traders with an indoor facility under the 1875 canopy, with the current market hall and car park being demolished to make way for new cinemas.
It has also been revealed that the former Post Office building is to be marketed for a hotel and leisure development, as part of an “ambitious” regeneration of the city centre.
Leader of Preston Council, Coun Peter Rankin, said: “At one stage, the traders were very concerned they were coming out of where they are and would have to trade in the open, as they saw it.
“So we have listened to that and as a result we have really pushed the boat out.”
He said the markets were a “key part” of Preston’s culture and heritage, and said traders would now be consulted on the architects’ concept.
Coun Rankin said: “Our goal is for a game-changing new cinema development.
“City centres have to offer much more than ever before.
“It’s no longer just about shopping. It’s about vibrancy, uniqueness, culture, heritage, events, food and drink and things to do. Through the Markets Quarter development, Preston can offer this and more.”
County Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “The Markets Quarter development is a great vision for the future of Preston and we are fully behind it.
“Preston city centre is an important part of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal and its success acts as a major economic driver for the county as a whole.”
Norman Young, whose family runs the Banana King business in the market, said traders were “very positive” about the plans.
He said: “They are building something that we can all work with and move the market forward into the 21st century.
“Things are moving now and they seem to be listening to us.”
Jim Carter, chairman of the City Deal executive, said: “This is a golden opportunity for Preston city centre.”
He said there was already a “great deal” of investment going into the area, and said: “The Market’s Quarter development is an important step forward.”
Mike Horner, regional director of Muse Developments Ltd, who will be working on the cinema plans, said: “We are looking at a major cinema development – one that would draw people from across the county. And with a cinema you also attract a wide range of restaurants and bars that will really compliment the re-vitalised markets and Preston’s cultural offer.”
John Sullivan, head of consulting at Cinema Next, added: “The cinema study for Preston that we completed last year clearly demonstrates the enormous potential for a major new cinema development in the centre of this stunning city. “Historically Preston has been at the forefront of cinema development in the UK and the cinema industry is beginning to wake up again to the potential that this city has for once again leading the way.”