New Hapton business park could create 2,000 jobs

Burnley Bridge Business Park. (s)
Burnley Bridge Business Park. (s)

A LANDMARK business development which could generate 2,000 jobs in Burnley is awaiting an imminent decision on vital European cash.

Bosses at the Burnley Bridge Business Park say that if the £4m. European Regional Development Fund money is agreed work could begin on the project by the end of the month.

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, a key figure in advancing the scheme, described the news as “massive” and claimed several big companies had already registered a significant interest in the former Hepworth site in Hapton.

“The signs are very positive,” said Mr Birtwistle. “The developers Eshton have got a lot of companies interested in taking on the site. Some serious multi-national companies.

“They have had a lot of inquiries from small companies and some from big companies wanting massive units.”

Mr Birtwistle could not reveal which companies were interested in setting up on the business park off Junction 9 of the M65, but said the list included storage and major manufacturing companies.

However, he claimed bureaucracy was standing in the way.

“If it goes ahead we are looking at 2,000 new jobs coming to Burnley. It is a superb project - we have just got to get the bridge over the motorway up.

“That is why we have been working so hard to bring it all together. The developers Eshton are on standby. They cannot do anything until the bridge is in. So the pressure is on to get it sorted.

“This money was promised by Europe but it is just the bureaucracy. The North West Development Agency get the money then pass it on.”

A spokesman for the Eshton Group, the developers behind the ambitious project, confirmed they had received significant interest from a number of businesses which he described as “very encouraging”.

“We have had two or three strong inquiries from companies wanting to occupy the site. It is a very positive start to the year. But nothing has been set in stone.”

The spokesman confirmed work could start on the site by the end of the month if the European funding is agreed. “We are just about to sign a contract with a demolition firm and if all goes well, demolition of the buildings on the site could begin at the end of January. This is a major step. It shows we have got some momentum in the process.

“It is all about momentum. As work starts people can see what is happening and if a couple of companies sign up it will be all systems go.”