NEW Year is a time to look forward - and with that in mind here's why 2015 is shaping up to be a fantastic one in Worcestershire.

1. Some real changes are on the way to Worcester.

A planning application over a £150 million retail park off Newtown Road, anchored by a £7 million John Lewis, will either be accepted or rejected by the city council later this year.

If accepted it will mean 1,000 new jobs and a major boost for shoppers, with more choice than ever before.

2. The city centre's profile will grow regardless.

Worcester's Business Improvement District (BID), which promotes the central shopping area, has just secured a new five-year deal promising a £2 million investment package - including more pop-up shops, better marketing, a special Restaurant Week and a fresh look at signage.

3. Hanging baskets are on the way back to the city in style.

The BID knows how much people loved them, and is planning a big 'bulk buy' project to get the baskets dotted around Worcester's central streets, making the city even prettier.

4. We don't have to be quite as concerned about floods.

After the 2007 disaster, when 4,500 homes were wrecked, last year saw just 108 of them affected, as well as 55 businesses, mainly due to beefed-up defences.

And it's only going to get better - another £3.6 million is being sunk into flood defences, with Worcester's New Road in line for some protection before the year is out as the top priority.

5. Into football? Worcester City FC are still basking in the limelight, having come off that glorious FA Cup run which made national headlines.

And with interest in the club at a real high, as a hot topic of discussion in the pubs again, a decision will be made this year over bringing the lads home to a 4,100-capacity stadium at Perdiswell. It's a simply a huge year for the club.

6. Any history buffs out there? The city council is planning a list of important investments to make more of Worcester's heritage, including a £200,000 revamp of The Commandery.

It will mean the first significant changes to the facilities inside since 2007, making it even more of a tourist draw.

If that's not enticing enough to history larks, its the 800th year of the Magna Carta, and a big event is being prepared to celebrate that.

7. 2015 is a General Election year.

After parliament changed its rules four years ago these events don't come around very often - this will be the first since 2010, and it'll almost certainly be 2020 before you get another say after this spring.

If you aren't happy with the status quo, here's your chance to change things.

8. Worcestershire Parkway will be creeping ever closer to reality.

Despite the county council having to negotiate with a private landowner, it intends to submit a planning application next month, and move so rapidly the £17.5 million site will be open by May 2017.

9. A cash injection will go into improving some Worcester city centre streets.

Rather a lot of cash, in fact - at least £500,000 will mean new surfacing for key areas like Broad Street and The Shambles so they are no longer poor relations to the High Street.

10. The 10K race is coming back to Worcester.

Remember the fun of last September, when thousands lined the streets to see the likes of Paula Radcliffe compete alongside ordinary people?

It went so well the organisers are returning in 2015, promising to make it even better.

11. Parking prices are staying as they are.

Subject to a vote next month, the city council is expected to confirm the rates, which were slashed last year, will remain intact. Shop away.

12. Worcester’s long-awaited new state-of-the-art £23 million oncology centre is opening this month at the royal.

It means patients in Worcestershire no longer have to travel to Cheltenham, Coventry or Wolverhampton, putting the county at the forefront of cancer treatment.

13. The good news on health services doesn't end there.

Construction will start this month on the life-saving breast cancer unit in Worcester after five years of fundraising backed by your Worcester News.

After £1.8 million was raised the diggers are about to go in, with the facility open by the autumn on the site of Worcestershire Royal.

14. It's a year of Worcestershire landmarks.

Not only is it the 50th anniversary of the Swan Theatre, with a raft of events planned to mark the milestone, it's also 150 years of Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

15. Worcestershire's motorways will get serious attention.

For years the county's M5 has been neglected, but now Junctions five, six and seven will be upgraded to ease congestion, while 4a to six will become a 'smart motorway' route opening up the hard shoulder at peak times.