Residents and businesses in Burnley are being asked for their views on a draft plan that could provide a £100m. boost to the local economy and create 1,000 new jobs.
Earlier this year, the council announced plans for a major new retail and leisure development on the former Pioneer site in Curzon Street that would see Reel Cinema relocate there, restaurants, a public plaza, shops and a 125-space car park.
A draft masterplan, which is out for public consultation and will go before the council's Executive on Tuesday, September 18th, provides further details on this and a range of other projects that are proposed over the next decade.
These include further improvements to Charter Walk, the development of a university campus site around Sandygate Square, offices on the former Thompson Centre site and a revamp of Yorkshire Street.
Burnley Council leader Mark Townsend said: “We have completed the improvements to the pedestrianised area, and the private sector has invested with new openings and improvements to shop frontages. But this was just the start. The masterplan needs to build on that.
“Some people may ask: ‘Why keep spending money on the town centre? Why is that a priority?’ My answer is that the town centre is an engine of growth for the local economy. Many town centres are struggling; Burnley’s is growing. I want that to continue.
“But it’s not all about the economy and jobs. A brilliant town centre is also good for local pride. When I walk through town today, I feel a buzz about the place that wasn’t there 10 years ago. This plan is about making sure that in 10 years from now, even more people are enjoying it.”
During the next four years the keys proposals are:
- A major new leisure development: “Pioneer Place”. The plan is for Reel cinema to move from its current site in Manchester Road, on the edge of the town centre, to a new multi-screen complex in Curzon Street. The new site will also include new food, beverage and retail units. The council previously announced that a national supermarket chain would take over and convert the existing cinema site. The masterplan proposes that as part of the development of the new cinema site in Curzon Street, a new public square is built to connect the site into the wider street network, with improved pedestrian access around that part of the town. The council is will announce further details on the Pioneer Place project before the end of the year.
- Continued improvement to Charter Walk shopping centre, including new frontages for the shops facing Market Square and the relocation of the market hall access stair.
- The development of a university campus site. The University of Central Lancashire has taken ownership of Victoria Mill in Trafalgar Street so it can expand in Burnley. The priority is to create student accommodation around Sandygate Square. A longer-term option is to develop the George Street Mill site, which is between the Town Centre and Sandygate. Largely derelict at present, the area could become a future university campus site, including additional teaching buildings for UCLan, with more student accommodation, and a small number of food and drink outlets.
Asif Raja, Executive Member for Economy and Growth added: “This isn’t pie in the sky. Burnley Football Club, the University of Central Lancashire, and the County Council are right behind the plan. A lot of what we want to achieve is possible because the council owns the land. The council’s job is to bring together investment from the council, the wider public sector, and business, so we can deliver aspects of the masterplan in the very near future.
“Other proposals in the masterplan are more aspirational. Nevertheless, we need to plan for all the changes we want to see in the town centre, so that if and when funding becomes available, we can target those resources at schemes that are part of a coherent plan. We want local businesses and residents to give us their views, so that the whole borough can get behind the changes that are coming.”
Looking further ahead, the draft masterplan describes other possible options including the development the former Thompson Centre site if there is sufficient demand for additional high quality office space.
A Youth Zone facility could also be located at nearby Croft Street. If realised, the Youth Zone would be a new service run by Burnley Football in the Community and Burnley Leisure, and would include activities for young people in the heart of the town centre close to public transport connections.
Another long-term aspiration is to revamp Yorkshire Street. This could include improving pedestrian access to Turf Moor.
The report states: “The large roundabout junction arrangement at the Church Street/Centenary Way/Yorkshire Road junction is very unhelpful to pedestrian movement across all junction approaches and the pedestrian subway is uninviting.”
The masterplan proposes a redesign of the junction, with additional space given over to pedestrians: “There is also great potential to formalise the processional route to Turf Moor with lighting columns, signage / flags, and tree planting, which would add to the sense of occasion on match days.”
The draft masterplan is available to view now on the council’s democracy website: http://bit.ly/2NxWmhD
The consultation will run from 19th September until 22nd October, when a questionnaire will be promoted on the council’s website.
To learn more about the plan and to give feedback, members of the public will also be able to attend a drop-in session in the town centre; details on this will be announced shortly on the council website, Twitter and Facebook feeds. A presentation and Q & A session on the masterplan will also be held at the October meeting of the Town Centre Partnership, which is made up of local retailers.