A £1.5m plan to reinvigorate a town centre and extend a landmark building with a winter garden to boost the leisure offer looks set to receive a major financial boost.

Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet heard the authority has recently been given approval to apply for a £150,000 grant from the government’s Future High Streets Fund.

The authority’s leader Councillor Heather Scott revealed the prospect of landing the cash windfall as members approved funding a revamp of the town’s Victorian Indoor Market.

The scheme, which was the public’s preferred option in a public consultation earlier this year, would be built on the east facing side of the market hall and include enclosed glazed sides to create an internal environment.

The initiative would also see the development of new food and drink outlets at the expansive 19th century building to foster a stronger evening economy, serve residents’ needs and act as a regional attraction for visitors.

An officers’ report to the meeting stated: “The importance of the Indoor Market to the local economy is well recognised by the council. Despite current challenges the Indoor Market still enjoys some unique advantages.

“It is centrally-located and enjoys strong customer loyalty and it retains a sizeable fresh food offer but there are undoubtedly opportunities for significant improvements and growth which will add to its vitality and viability and make a more telling contribution to the town’s vibrancy.”

Councillor Alan Marshall, the council’s cabinet member for economy and regeneration, told the meeting the transformation of the building would be accompanied by numerous other improvements, such as to heating and lighting. Cllr Marshall said as the authority strived to increase the number of town centre visitors, the market needed to be a place where higher quality small independent retailers and food operators operated. He confirmed the revamp would see the reopening of the public toilets in the covered market.

Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Steven Harker said he was pleased the Tory-run council was following through on the work started on the indoor market by the previous Labour administration.

Councillor Matthew Snedker, the Green Party group leader, raised concerns over the number of traders who had left the indoor market recently and questioned if the authority was providing sufficient support to the retailers.

Members were told there was a chance the market could be “too far gone” by the time the revamp was completed. The meeting heard the council was providing advice to traders, but they were facing “a difficult trading environment”.