AN extra £1 million could be awarded to a Greenock town centre regeneration project - but only if there is a further reduction of parking spaces.

Charity Sustrans, which promotes walking and cycling, has offered to stump up cash towards revitalising West Blackhall Street, in return for greater public areas to encourage healthier lifestyles.

Inverclyde Council has already pledged £1.9m to help breathe new life into one of the district's key shopping thoroughfares with plans being developed by regeneration firm Riverside Inverclyde and private consultants Ironside Farrar.

Initial proposals included a reduction in parking of between 45 and 20 per cent even though a lack of available spaces continues to be one of the biggest complaints from shoppers and traders.

The Tele understands that Sustrans would be willing to contribute a substantial sum towards the West Blackhall Street development if even more parking is taken away.

A council spokesman said: "Sustrans has let us know that there is an exciting opportunity to bid for a further £1m as part of our existing plans to regenerate West Blackhall Street. "The council would need to draw up proposals and make a bid for the available funding. "Part of that work will involve discussions with, for example, local traders to identify opportunities and what that bid could look like. "It is very early stages and no detailed plans have been drawn up."

The Telegraph understands West Blackhall Street traders will be consulted on the matter at a meeting on January 28.

Campaign group Living Streets Scotland say that shoppers who walk to stores spend up to six times as much as those who drive and the number of people using streets where improvements have been made has gone up by 35 per cent.

Dave Keane, manager of Sustrans Scotland's Community Links programme, said: "Sustrans Scotland have had discussions with representatives of Inverclyde Council about our Community Links programme, promoting the fact we can provide match-funding for projects which prioritise walking and cycling for everyday journeys and pointing out the potential to include provision for walking and cycling in the West Blackhall Street project.

"The Community Links programme is funded by Transport Scotland, and Sustrans Scotland's role in administering grant applications is to ensure that all funding fulfils the criteria of promoting walking and cycling for every day journeys.

"As well as helping our towns and cities move better, and making people healthier, there is growing evidence that prioritising places for people, and making places better for walking and cycling, contributes to local economies and local retail vitality. "We would very much welcome an application from Greenock."

The West Blackhall Street regeneration is part of a £2.65m investment by the council in Greenock town centre.

Designers are proposing a reduction in parking to make way for more trees, wider pavements, outdoor seating and other 'public realm' areas.