Runcorn’s Shopping City is set to receive a £1m investment to help revitalise Halton Lea.

The money will be used to fund nine projects at the run-down shopping centre, many of which involve finding new uses for vacant retail units.

There are also plans to build a rooftop community garden at the top of one of Shopping City’s car parks and improve pedestrian routes in the area.

The investment comes from the metro mayor’s Town Centre Fund announced in 2018, which is intended to “stimulate plans for Town Centres that will generate a long term sustainable approach to revitalising the high street”, according to a report prepared by Halton Council officers.

The report, to be considered by the council’s Environment and Urban Renewal Policy and Performance Board next week, details nine projects that will receive funding from the combined authority.

The largest slice of funding will go towards refurbishing the former B&M store to enable the NHS to move some outpatient services from Halton Hospital to Shopping City.

Some £350,000 will go towards moving ophthalmology, audiology and dietetics services from the hospital, which Halton’s health board believes will improve access for patients and increase space for other services at the hospital.

Another £77,000 will be spent on a “wellbeing hub”, meant to provide a more permanent version of the pop-up health services that have been established at Shopping City in recent years.

The Citizens Advice Bureau will also be relocated to Shopping City as its current home in the Halton 5 office block is set to be turned into flats. This will involve spending £100,000 on repurposing another empty shop for the “high demand service”.

Yet another empty shop will be converted into a “Culture HQ” at a cost of £90,000 ahead of Halton’s year as the city region’s Borough of Culture in 2021, while a total of £5,000 in grants will be made available for charities “to try delivering their services or activities in traditional retail space”.

Another £8,000 will be made available for would-be traders at The Box, mainly to cover the hire of space at the market for six months, and £45,000 will be spent on converting the top two levels of the nearby red car park into a garden.

Council officers said the rooftop garden, supported by another £75,000 from the National Gardening Scheme, “will incorporate growing areas with community space and involve a range of partners who will be involved in use of the space”.

Beyond Shopping City, £50,000 will be spent on improving access to the Community Shop in Priory House, which offers food and household goods at well below normal prices for people on benefits.

Another £200,000 will also be spent on improving pedestrian access to Shopping City itself, with a particular focus on the north side of the area.

The council report said: “The north side of Shopping City is poorly served with pedestrian access; a scheme of pathways and a safe crossing point is being explored.  “How people can navigate between the retail space, the hospital estate, Town Park green space and surrounding housing is a key area of focus aiming to improve ease, visibility and connectivity.  “The longer term ambitions for regeneration in Palacefields and the hospital estate requires a collaborative long term plan that considers future changes and the wayfinding in the area to understand connectivity.”

The projects benefiting from the funding will be expected to contribute a total of £601,875 on top of the £1m from the city region.