Warrington Borough Council’s flagship town centre regeneration scheme is being tipped to reinforce the borough as a ‘great place to live and visit’.
The ambitious project – which has a budget of £139 million – is on track to officially open in early 2020.
Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden hailed the Labour-run authority for ‘never losing its ambition or being afraid of taking investment risks’ amid austerity.
He said: “We could have decided not to invest in Time Square, or we could have delivered something a third of the size – but it would probably never of had the same step change benefit for Warrington.
“Time Square is making fantastic progress and everyone can see what a fantastic asset it will be for the regeneration of our town centre.
“Making a new leisure and retail attraction to complement our existing offer is essential to the development of new town centre housing and reinforces Warrington as a great place to live and visit.
“We already have strong anchor tenants for the scheme and I am sure that Time Square will be a great success when it opens in 2020.”
After Time Square is completed, it will feature a Cineworld cinema, permanent market hall, council offices and a public square.
It is also planned to attract a number of restaurants.
Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, has been keeping a close eye on developments.
However, he criticised the amount of time it has taken to deliver the scheme.
“The success of the Time Square development is essential for Warrington’s future and it is good to see it approaching completion and becoming the heart of Warrington town centre,” he said.
“There was no masterplan for the town centre when the Liberal Democrats took control of the council in 2006.
“By May 2011, when Labour took back control of the council, the plan was complete and a contract with a lead contractor ready for signing.
“Largely, the original vision has been fulfilled, even though the anchor food store had to be abandoned.
“It is a complex project but it shouldn’t have taken nearly a decade to turn into reality.
“It is essential to make sure that the quality of the final fit out and public realm is good enough to make Time Square a favoured destination for both Warrington residents and those from the surrounding region.
“It has the potential to be a great success.”