Current proposals to revamp Clitheroe Market could be scrapped in favour of a new bid which would include a wider vision for the town centre.
Members of Ribble Valley Borough Council’s policy and finance committee are meeting on Tuesday to decide whether to continue working with Barnfield Construction on the redevelopment of the market or to terminate the contract and apply for government funding to develop a vision for the wider town centre with the market site forming one element of the improvements.
Nicola Hopkins, the council's director of economic development and planning, in a report to the committee, says: "The council is committed to bringing forward a scheme for the redevelopment of the market area but this needs to be done in the context of delivering the right development for the town centre.
"Given the council’s ambitions for Clitheroe Town Centre and the announcement of the Future High Street Fund there are other options for delivering the council’s vision for the wider Clitheroe Town Centre."
The £9 million market plan was put on hold in September when councillors voted to take a breather from plans for the redevelopment.
In September 2017 the borough ditched plans for a new hotel as part of the redevelopment of the market in the face of public opposition.
The original scheme unveiled in July 2016 also included a three-storey market hall, new retail units and a 56-space car park on the historic town centre site.
Despite scaling back the scheme to remove the hotel and provide a two-storey market building with an open-air top-floor space for stalls and and ground-floor food court, opposition remained strong.
In December, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a call for expressions of interest to bid for part of the £675m Future High Streets fund.
This fund is intended to renew and reshape town centres and high streets in a way that improves experience, drives growth and ensures future sustainability.
Expressions of interest in the fund must be submitted by March with places subsequently being shortlisted.
In a report to the committee, Nicola Hopkins adds: "Whilst town centre areas that are not facing significant challenges will not be eligible for the fund it is considered that Clitheroe Town Centre does have its own specific challenges.
"The town centre experiences retail spend leakage outside of the borough and the market has seen a decrease in footfall within recent years with an increase in vacant stalls.
"Clitheroe has a unique offer of independent stores which could be enhanced to improve the visitor experience demonstrating that the authority is ‘future-proofing’ the town centre to enable its continued success. As such there is an opportunity to submit an expression of interest for this fund.
"A Town Centre Masterplan was developed for Clitheroe however this is nine years old now. This plan and vision for the town centre can be revisited to support a bid to the fund. This will enable consideration of new developments and improvements in respect of the wider town centre rather than individual elements of the town centre."