A HISTORIC boatyard is at the centre of an ambitious £1.1m. redevelopment plan in Burnley.
Developers hope to transform Finsley Gate Wharf into a top tourist attraction with a restaurant, working dry dock and holiday cottages.
The former industrial yard, where the Queen embarked on a canal boat trip during her Royal visit, could be the latest piece of the regeneration jigsaw in Burnley’s iconic Weavers’ Triangle.
Work is already under way on the multi-million pound University Technical College and plans are in place to redevelop the Healey Royd Mill site with 168 homes, office premises leisure facilities and shops.
Hapton Valley Boats, the firm behind the development, believes the venture could boost the tourism industry which is worth £100m. to the town.
Lee Shepherd (42) owner of Hapton Valley Boats which operates holiday narrowboats on the canal, said: “It is going to be great for tourism in Burnley.
“Currently our customers come from all around the world from the US to Australia. They come for the canal networks round here – not many places have 200-year-old canals with centuries of heritage that you can travel past and look at. It is a fantastic asset.”
The blueprints show exciting plans for the site which has remained unused for 20 years.
The main warehouse will be converted into a cafe and restaurant with changing and toilet facilities also inside.
Two holiday homes will be created in the existing Canal House complete with private gardens and there is a landscaped public space right by the water. A dry dock is earmarked for the waterside across from the former Lambert Howarth mill and there is also a boat launch planned.
A boat service yard and workshop is also on site along with an old iron forge which will be restored to create an educational heritage feature.
Plans are to launch day-hire boats for tourists wanting to explore the Weavers’ Triangle and a holiday booking office will be on site for visitors staying longer.
At least 16 jobs could be created if the project goes ahead.
Lee, who is a retired warrant officer from the Royal Logistics Corps, said: “We want to return it to being a working boatyard but at the same time we will develop the main warehouse into a cafe and restaurant.
“There are more than 300 boats on this stretch of canal which we will be able to service and repair. There is nowhere else to service or maintain boats in the area.”
Plans are set to be submitted to Burnley Council within the next eight weeks and the development could be up and running by 2014 if given the green light.