The successful bid of almost £20m. from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund means the University plan, together with two other major projects to transform Burnley, can now go ahead.
The university worked with Burnley Council and MP for Burnley and Padiham, Antony Higginbotham, to submit the funding bid which in addition to the expansion of the Burnley Campus also includes upgrades to the town’s Manchester Road railway station and improving links between the town centre and Turf Moor.
Combined, the plan is to connect expanded education facilities at the Burnley Campus, through the new Pioneer Place development in the town centre and on to Burnley FC to create an economic corridor running directly from one side of the town to the other.
The successful bid aligns with the university’s ambition to increase student numbers in Burnley to 6,000 by 2031 and includes the purchase and reconfiguration of Sandygate Mill and the creation of circa 35,000 square foot of space incorporating a Knowledge Exchange Zone to support local business needs, teaching and social space.
Sandygate Mill, located near the 136-bed Sandygate Halls and UCLan’s state-of-the-art medical teaching centre at Victoria Mill, is to be home to the campus library and Students’ Union (SU), as well as providing office space for around 30 members of staff.
The trio of UCLan buildings based around Sandygate Square will form a central campus hub for students based in Burnley.
Commenting on the news, UCLan’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin said: “The Government’s approval of the development plan for Burnley is a massive vote of confidence. Working together with partners Burnley Council and Burnley College this funding will enable us to accelerate our expansion strategy to raise young people’s aspirations in the area, respond to local employers’ skills needs and support the regeneration of Burnley town centre and the wider region it serves.
“With our student numbers in Burnley currently in the region of 1,700 we will continue to ensure there is opportunity and access to the right education pathways for everyone, no matter where they live. Our focus is to provide an educational offer which is relevant and practical, for instance, developing the next generation of key workers in areas such as medicine, nursing, policing and social work.
“In addition, we aim to build on our employer engagement strategy so local companies benefit from our degree apprenticeship courses in areas such as digital, cyber and management as well as access research expertise and business support programmes to improve business competitiveness and innovation.”
The university is part of an established relationship with its strategic partners Burnley Borough Council, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Burnley Football Club and the Burnley Bondholders.
The £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund contributes to the Government’s levelling up agenda by investing in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centre and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.