WORK on a £500,000 scheme to transform Northwich railway station into a community learning centre is likely to begin in the summer.
The proposals to transform the derelict station into a learning centre featuring cyber cafés, training rooms and a community room were approved at a meeting of Cheshire County Council last week and will be considered by the council's executive, which is expected to give the scheme the green light.
Council bosses hope the centre will give residents the opportunity to improve their job prospects by acquiring new skills and qualifications.
It would also provide a focal point for initiatives designed to address key social issues such as community safety and drug and alcohol misuse.
The renovation is expected to cost £530,000 and will be funded through a range of partner organisations, including a contribution of £190,000 from the county council's Lifelong Learning service.
Northwich county councillor Shirley Harris said: 'This is an exciting concept which would help to address the need within Cheshire to improve the basic skills levels in our most disadvantaged communities.
'Consultation with the community in east Northwich has shown a clear need for a locally based centre providing flexible learning opportunities. Indeed, the views of local people have been a key consideration in developing the concept for the community learning centre.
'However, it is important to stress that this proposal is still at the drawing-board stage and there remains a number of issues which require clarification.'
David Miller, of the Mid Cheshire Rail Users' Association, said he hoped the proposals would encourage more people to use the station.
He said: 'Generally speaking, we like to see railway stations being made more use of in terms of people using the building.
'It means that there is more going on at the station, more comings and goings and less chance of any vandalism taking place.'