COUNCIL bosses are bidding for a £1.5million windfall to develop Bacup town centre.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has given Rossendale Council an initial £37,500 development fund to help prepare for a full bid in October.

Buildings and shops in St James’ Square, St James’ Street, Market Street, Union Street, and Market Place, would be the focus of any cash.

Coun Andrew MacNae, portfolio holder for regeneration at the council, said the award was ‘great news for Bacup’.

“This is a real thumbs-up for the town. The lottery has clearly recognised the quality of our buildings, and the strength of our community.

“We now have the opportunity to build on these strengths and address some of the issues that have held Bacup back in recent years.”

Passing the first round of the bid means that money has been set aside by the lottery’s Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme and, while it does not guarantee funding, it is an indication of positive support.

A redevelopment for Bacup, planned in a Pennine Lancashire Squared competition in 2009, failed to materialise.

The town centre was designated a conservation area in 1981, but blasted by an English Heritage report in 2010 for being ‘very bad’ and ‘highly vulnerable’.

David Pesto, economic development and external funding officer at the council, said the initial pot of £37,500 would help to carry out structural and condition surveys on buildings in the area.

“We will prepare an activity plan for round two, including extensive community consultations, and identifying potential owners and tenants for façade and frontage improvements.”

Paul Greenwood, chairman of civic group Bacup Pride, said he was ‘very pleased’ with the news. He said: “The council has our absolute support and we wish them the best of luck. Although we’re only a small group, we’d love to be involved in shaping the process in some capacity.

“Shop fronts have got to be the priority. If it’s successful, maintaining the standard afterwards is going to be key.”