The first step in the £3m. transformation of Burnley’s Charter Walk shopping centre is due to begin on Monday.
Expected to be completed in time for next Easter, the redevelopment will be the most significant work ever carried out in the centre.
One side of the Market Square will be redeveloped by tearing down the first floor walkway and recladding the outside. The businesses on the balcony have already moved out.
It will allow fashion store River Island to virtually double in size by expanding into the former W.H. Smith store next door. River Island has agreed a 10-year lease for the new unit, doubling in size to 11,300 sq. ft.
In the meantime, it will temporarily relocate to the former Superdrug store at 12-14 Market Square, next month.
Alex Wagstaff, a partner with Charter Walk owners Addington Capital, said: “The new stores will be available from next spring and we are in advanced negotiations with national multiple retailers for the remaining units.”
Work was originally due to begin last year on the scheme which will be done in stages.
Burnley council chief executive Steve Rumbelow welcomed the news. He said: “This is another vote of confidence in Burnley and shows businesses know this is a great place to invest. Next doubled the size of its store here and now River Island is set to do the same. These major fashion chains know that our two new university campuses, soon to be three when the University Technical College opens in September, mean that Burnley is getting younger.”
The Centre for Cities highlights Burnley as one of the fastest growing areas for private sector employment.