Burnley set for multi-million pound youth zone
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Senior councillors have backed the plan to be developed with specialist youth work charity OnSide.
Burnley Council’s executive on Wednesday night agreed to support a bid for a grant for the government’s Youth Investment Fund to build an open access youth zone in the town centre.
If successful the project is expected to cost up to £10m with the money coming from Whitehall, the charity, and the authority.
OnSide run a network of Youth Zones across the country including the thriving one in Blackburn town centre.
Its latest two schemes in the pipeline in Bury and Barnsley are expected to cost £8.4m and £9m.
OnSide are planning to open four new young people’s hubs a year.
Burnley Council leader Afrasiab Anwar said: “This is an exciting scheme that would provide a much-needed and easily accessible site for all young people from across the borough to use and enjoy the kind of things they want, not what us adults think they want.
“It’s a tried and tested approach that has been successful in other towns and cities across the country and it would be great if we could see a youth zone in our borough.
“The creation of a youth zone is a key project in the council’s Town Centre and Canalside Masterplan to regenerate and improve the centre of Burnley.
“These proposals are still at a very early stage but we’re right behind this bid to get outside funding to make them a reality and provide somewhere central where young people can come and enjoy a wide range of activities, provided by staff who are experienced in working with them, in a safe and welcoming environment.”
An OnSide spokesperson said: “We’re delighted to be working with Burnley Council and are hopeful for a positive decision from the Youth Investment Fund.
“Its support is an exciting step towards developing a fantastic new youth zone and shows its belief in young people from the borough.
“The brand-new Youth Zone will be a safe and inspiring place giving thousands of young people the opportunity to discover their talents, develop their skills and reach their full potential.”
Former council leader and Gannow councillor for the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party Coun. Charlie Brigg said: “It is a fantastic idea. It would get young people of the streets and help reduce anti-social behaviour. I would like to see it near the bus station.”
In 2012 Lancashire County Council set up a less ambitious youth hub known as The Zone in Burnley in the town’s Whittam Street.