Community leaders have presented their “vision” for an evolved Barrow town centre to the Government.

Barrow Council has applied to the Government for a share of its £675 million Future High Streets Fund.

Council bosses have worked with town centre trade and regeneration groups to submit an expression of interest for the pot of money, with a focus on evolving the high street into a thriving community space.

Emphasising the town's independent shops and moving towards a “cafe culture” is at the heart of the plan for an improved town centre, leaders say.

More than 300 other local authorities are said to have applied for a share of the fund, which the Government says will help struggling high streets become community hubs by improving access and infrastructure.

There has been increased focus on transforming Barrow’s town centre, particularly in the wake of the announcement that Marks and Spencer is to shut up shop.

Council leader Dave Pidduck said: “This is about moving beyond just retail and looking at how we can evolve the town centre.

"High streets now are not just about going shopping and we have seen with new cafes and bars on Dalton Road that the town centre is changing."

Linked to the plan, he said the council would “not be averse” to discussing plans to potentially buy up a section of the town centre and work with a developer to build a space for a major retailer, such as Primark. 

“It's something we would discuss with our council officers – you can speculate to accumulate,” he added.

Stuart Klosinski, of the Furness Economic Development Forum, said the regeneration group had worked to secure backing from more than 30 local businesses on the plan and said it presented a “strong vision” for Barrow

In a letter of support for the application, Barrow's Business Improvement District manager Colin Garnett suggested the heart of the town centre should have more green space and bus stops to improve transport links.

The local authority is due to hear back on whether its application has been successful before the end of July.

If selected, the council will then be invited to submit a more detailed plan.