A neglected area of Burnley town centre looks set to be transformed with a massive cash injection from the Government.
Burnley has been named as one of 69 towns and cities in the UK to receive a slice of £95M from the Government to fund projects aimed at breathing new life into empty buildings.
It is among 14 towns that will share the £18.7M allocated to the North West.
Although the exact amount allocated to Burnley will not be announced until January, following the submission of detailed proposals, the money from the Historic High Street fund will be used to revitalise lower St James Street.
Burnley Council put forward a bid for £1.3M over four years and this week's announcement was described as 'great news' by council leader Charlie Briggs who said: " We have been awarded, in principle, agreement for developing a High Street Heritage Action Zone for the lower St James Street area.
“Lower St James Street is identified as a key project in the Town Centre and Canalside Masterplan.
"This will build on our planned public realm improvements, help to renovate the heritage buildings in the area and revitalise that part of the town centre. We’ve invested in improving other parts of the town centre, which looks fantastic, and is attracting more shoppers and visitors in.
"It’s vital we go further and bring lower St James Street up to a similar standard and increase the number of people who visit that part of the town centre.
“It fits in well with the wider regeneration of the shopping centre, the proposed Cinema/Leisure development at Pioneer Place, and with the investment that the University of Central Lancashire is putting into the Weavers’ Triangle and the work being done to transform Burnley into a university town.
“We’re working to create an exciting and ambitious buzz about Burnley and this funding is a great boost for our plans for lower St James Street.”
The programme aims to create a vibrant cultural quarter sitting between the town centre and the Weavers' Triangle. The council's application to attract funding said: “The borough has a history of creativity, but many creative people have to move away from the borough to find suitable studio space and artistic networks.
"There is untapped potential in the buildings in St James Street, together with experience of the partners to turn this trend around and deliver a new creative community in the heart of the conservation area.”
It is proposed to use the money together with match funding to deliver:
* Public realm improvements
* Grants for works to heritage buildings in the area, focusing on those that have been vacant for a prolonged period, for restoration of historic features, sympathetic and well-designed shop fronts, and for bringing
upper floors back into use.
* An exemplar project, in partnership with local arts groups Creative Spaces, Burnley and members of Burnley Creative Alliance to develop a creative hub in the area with workshops and exhibition space for contemporary
* A programme of cultural events in and around Lower St James Street including, for example, open studios, street art and street theatre.
Further details will be announced once the level of funding is known and as plans develop.