A £2.4 million cash boost to transform the centre of Kirkby and secure the future of its health village has been confirmed.
Ashfield District Council will receive £1.022 million in European funding for a new plaza and comprehensive improvements to Kirkby town centre.
The announcement comes as news that £1.4 million proposals to develop the Kirkby Health Village has also been given the green light.
Councillors say the work, due to start on 1st September, will give Kirkby a town centre to be proud of.
They say new public space off Ellis Street and improvements to the adjacent pedestrianised shopping area will help to revitalise the town centre.
The former community hospital will become a major new community health and wellbeing centre to provide a home to a range of community services under one roof.
Works are expected to begin there in the autumn with the newly redeveloped centre due to be ready for use in 2015.
The £1.022 million project for a new plaza and other improvements has been funded by Section 106 developer contributions and £403,365 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
Councillors say the new public space off Ellis Street and improvements to the adjacent pedestrianised shopping area will help to revitalise the town centre by attracting more people to use local facilities.
The aim of the project is to provide an attractive environment for the town’s market, public events and community activities, and it is hoped that it will attract further business and residential development around the new plaza.
Coun Jim Aspinall, Ashfield District Council Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said: “I am very pleased that this stage of the regeneration is now able to proceed.
“With the arrival of Morrisons, Wetherspoons and siting the Post Office within the pedestrianised area, Kirkby will now develop into a very pleasant town centre.
“Much credit has to go to the Ashfield District Council Officers and members of the Kirkby town centre regeneration group for all the hard work that has been put into the regeneration of the town centre.
“We will be continuing to work hard to improve the traffic flow problems we have in the town, but we hope to come forward with proposals to solve that problem in the near future”
The plaza will replace the car park off Ellis Street and will use high quality materials such as natural stone paving.
A series of artworks will be incorporated into the scheme including bronze statues of local famous cricketers to complement the existing statue of Harold Larwood which will be re-sited near the library.
A sculpture will also be commissioned near the Nags Head pub which will mark the entrance to the pedestrianised area.
An artist will work with local schools and groups to produce images and themes which celebrate the rich cultural and sporting history of Kirkby which will be incorporated into an ‘art wall’ which will lead from the main shopping area down into the plaza.
Coun Chris Baron, Leader of Ashfield District Council, added: “The improvements to Kirkby town centre are long overdue and the much needed European funding is greatly welcomed.
“Town centre development is one of the top priorities of the Authority.
“Work is progressing on Hucknall and now in Kirkby and the Masterplan for Sutton is in the development stages. I hope that the residents of Kirkby make full use of the new facilities.”