PLANS for a ‘cultural quarter’ in Banbury are a step closer to fruition after Cherwell District Council agreed to invest £60,000.

Planning permission for the project east of the Oxford Canal, which could include a new restaurant, public open space and refurbished Mill Theatre, will now be sought after councillors agreed to back the project.

The decision follows months of discussions between the district council, Oxfordshire County Council and The Mill management committee.

The district council also pledged to help the county develop a new library, as well as the theatre revamp, both of which are planned from 2012.

A new decked car park is also planned for the site of the old Spiceball sports centre, which will soon be demolished.

George Reynolds, the district council’s member for environment, recreation and health, said the plans would see the area “rejuvenated” as the cultural and leisure heart of the town.

He added: “This takes us a step closer to bringing about a significant integrated cultural centre for Banbury.

“Following on from the success of the new Spiceball Leisure Centre and with Banbury Museum nearby, this part of Banbury is set to become the heart of cultural and leisure activities, not just for the town, but for many miles around.”