Chorley masterplan revealed

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A masterplan that will shape the future of Chorley’s town centre can today be revealed for the first time by the Guardian.

The blueprint, drawn up by experts drafted in by Chorley Council, includes everything from a public square on the site of Gala Bingo to a new housing development on Fleet Street Car Park.

Council chiefs said the ambitious plans will focus on Chorley’s success as a thriving market town with independent shops, and will help boost the evening economy.

The 36-page dossier will be discussed at a meeting at Chorley Town Hall on

Thursday.

The proposals put forward by designers Planit include four options for the Gala Bingo site, all boasting a public, green space that would form a new civic square.

The plans also include a retail development incorporating the town’s first multi-storey car park.

Chorley Council deputy leader Coun Peter Wilson outlined the council’s vision for the future.

He said: “When Labour took over control of the authority last May, one of our main focuses was economic regeneration and the creation of new jobs in Chorley.

“The town is a big part of that and we have already worked hard to start the ball rolling.

“We have introduced a range of grants and incentives to support existing businesses and also attract new ones.”

Chorley Council also says it has listened to traders and shoppers and has altered the car parking tariffs to provide free parking after 1pm on Saturdays to encourage more people into the town.

It said that the masterplan is just the latest way they are looking to improve the centre.

The aim is to help provide a strong local economy, which council deputy leader Coun Peter Wilson says is a priority for the administration.

He said the scheme would be rolled out in a number of phases and that residents would be able to have their say on the suggestions.

The proposals include:

Regeneration of the Big Lamp area of Market Street

- Housing development in Fleet Street Car Park area, including community square running behind Runshaw College.

- Chorley would be the first Northern town to look at bringing residential areas back into the town centre.

- There could be up to 100 new homes, a mix of apartments and two and three bedroom houses.

- A community square has been drawn in on land behind the college leading to Peel Street.

The civic square

- Four options have been put forward for the Gala Bingo site which borders Market Street, High Street and Union Street.

- Three of the proposals include retail units and a multi-storey car park.

- The fourth boasts retail units and office space.

- A public green space would be created for people to gather and relax.

Arrival points to the town would be improved

- The plans include flexible space for use as a market, car park and events space on the Flat Iron.

Coun Wilson added: “Chorley is doing really well when compared to a lot of other towns and the amount of empty shops that we have.

“However, rather than take a short-term view on what we can be doing to help, we want to also really build for the future.

“We have held a number of meetings with local groups and discussed what we want the town centre to look like moving forward.

“We have agreed that we need to reduce the overall size of the retail area and that new homes could help boost trade and the evening

economy. Those residents are likely to shop locally and increase the demand for bars and

restaurants,

“We’ve also looked at improving the overall look of the public realm – improving our streets and roads and creating more green areas.”

Coun Wilson said that the number of parking spaces in the town would not be reduced as part of the development.

On the Gala Bingo plans, he added: “Chorley does not have an open space or public square.

“So one of the proposals that has been put forward is the idea to create it opposite the town hall.

“It would open up an area for people to meet and there is an opportunity to regenerate the site with new retail units and office space.

“The important message sat this stage is that these are only ideas.

“Obviously we will need the financial backing for the projects.

“But there is funding available to get work started on some of the plans, and we need to look at how we can improve the town to ensure its future prosperity.”

Emaol your views to: natalie.banks@lep.co.uk