Nelson town masterplan sets key priorities for next 30 years

Pendle Rise shopping centre in Nelson must be given a new purpose and needs public sector intervention to bring about change, according to a new draft masterplan to shape the whole town’s development for the next 25 to 30 years.
Nelson Rise shopping centre is mentioned as one of the top priorities in the draft masterplanNelson Rise shopping centre is mentioned as one of the top priorities in the draft masterplan
Nelson Rise shopping centre is mentioned as one of the top priorities in the draft masterplan

The new draft Nelson Masterplan highlights the key issues faced by the whole town.

Elements include the built and natural environment, travel, health and social objectives, new homes, jobs and open spaces, and priority tasks over the short, medium and long terms.

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The draft masterplan has been prepared for Pendle Borough Council to assist with short-term funding opportunities, such as the recently-warded £25million Government’s Town Deal Fund, and also longer-term planning, development and funding opportunities in the future.

It has been produced by planning, infrastructure and transport consultancies Cushman & Wakefield, WSP and Optimised Environments.

The 1960s Nelson Rise shopping centre is one of the top priorities, it states. The mall’s design is inward-looking, has become outdated, has many empty units and is hindering Nelson’s development. Like shopping centres in many towns, it has been hit by huge changes in shopping habits in recent years.

New and different uses must be found for it, along with other town centre buildings and spaces.

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The construction of new town centre apartments, better quality houses and affordable homes is recommended. Nelson also needs better paths, cycleways and events spaces and new ways to overcome physical barriers between different areas created by the M65 motorway.

Spatial problems regarding the movement of people and location of activities across the town include limited interaction between Nelson & Colne College and the town centre and the M65 creating barriers to walking and cycling across the whole town.

The M65 also separates Victoria Park and Lomeshaye Industrial estate from the town centre, the masterplan states.

Paths and cycleways linking the town centre, employment areas and the college are poor quality and poorly-signed, increasing a feeling of separation and inaccessibility, the masterplan states.

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Some important industrial zones are remotely located from Nelson town centre, meaning there is little interaction between workers and town centre businesses or services. Also some old clearance sites around the town centre that were subsequently filled with smaller industrial units or 1980s housing now separate other surrounding areas from the town centre.

However, the masterplan sets out a series of practical recommendations and priorities, and also points out that Nelson has a number of good physical assets too including historic buildings, conservation areas and an attractive natural setting near Pendle Hill.

New rail links to Skipton could also come in future, offering extra connections between Lancashire and Yorkshire. So there many opportunities to enhance the town.

Masterplan work began in 2019 and it has been reviewed and amended by the Nelson Town Board. The group includes community, business and young people’s representatives and was set up for the successful Town Deal Bid for £25 million in government cash.

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The new draft Nelson Masterplan states: “The board has identified a balanced programme of investment that will catalyse the redevelopment of vacant and underused sites, deliver new jobs and homes, equip people with new skills for the digital era, support business growth and resilience, enhance active transport and improve perceptions of the town."

Nelson’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are listed.

Strengths include access to motorways, businesses and employment; having the borough council, college, Wavelength leisure centre and community hospital in Nelson, easy access to countryside, historic buildings and waterway links.

Weaknesses include poor perceptions and Nelson being known for its past rather then its future potential; limited transport caused by being at the end of the M65 and the Colne rail line, low incomes, deprivation and old, small terraced housing.

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Opportunities for Nelson include being at the centre of the borough of Pendle, having a young and growing population, bidding opportunities for funds, such as the government’ s Town Deal; raising the profile of business parks and business opportunities, the borough’s track-record for change over the past ten years including town centre changes, and opportunities to deliver a series of potential housing proposals.

Threats include competing towns which have better retail, leisure and job offerings and business uncertainty because of the covid pandemic, a lack of investment.

Other threats include the borough council’s Local Plan Allocations Document not being adopted, which presents planning uncertainty and risk, and the impact of physical geographic features on people’s perceptions or actions, such steep hills which can seem inaccessible or create sense of separateness, or poor access to the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Pendle Rise is listed as a top priority to be tackled.

Other priorities for the short term include:

- Gaining a more mixed Nelson town centre with new housing and apartments, a better balance of independent and national shops, and more hospitality businesses open after 5pm

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improved cycle routes, walkways, greenery and town centre gateway areas

- Modernising Nelson’s industrial property with small premises and redevelopment of the Riverside Mill site investment support for buildings and equipment for important manufacturing sectors enhanced digital technology education, training and workspaces including a new town centre skills hub and upgrades to Nelson & Colne College at Barrowford.

Medium term priorities include:

- Using vacant or underused town centre sites for new housing.

- Buying and refurbishing empty homes to create new affordable housing and small scale landscape improvements to housing areas.

- Creating new events space in the town centre for a range of activities for families, teenagers or the elderly

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