Multi-million pound Levelling Up bid brings 'exciting and ambitious' Burnley plans a step closer
Three Burnley projects could be set for a big financial boost after the council and MP announced they would be jointly submitting a bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The bid will build on other schemes that have been delivered in the town centre, such as the public realm refurbishment, lower St James’ Street heritage action zone and the Pioneer Place development, which is due to start on site next month.
If successful, it will see further key projects within the Town Centre and Canalside Masterplan delivered before 2024.
In March, the government issued a Levelling Up Fund prospectus with the aim to boost local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and communities.
A total of £4.8bn is available across the UK, to be spent by March 2024. The fund is open to all areas, but Burnley was identified as a priority one area.
Funding bids must fit within the following investment themes:
- Transport investment
- Regeneration and town centre investment
- Culture and Heritage
Following consultation with Burnley MP Anthony Higginbotham, a decision was made to submit a bid, including a package of up to three projects linked to Burnley’s Town Centre and Canalside Masterplan.
In total, the bid amounts to an investment of £26.26 million with a Levelling Up Fund ask of £20 million.
To ensure the strongest bid possible, the council sought external support to advise on project selection.
A long list of projects from the Town Centre and Canalside masterplan were assessed taking into consideration their fit with the themes of the Levelling Up fund, readiness to spend money in this financial year, availability of matched funding and potential to deliver a high benefit cost ratio.
The three projects within the bid are:
UCLAN Campus Expansion
Following a master planning exercise to look at how projected growth (4,000 students by 2024/5 and 6.000 by 2031) could be accommodated over several stages to create a thriving canalside campus, this project will include:
- The purchase and reconfiguration of Sandygate Mill.
- Creation of circa 35,000 square foot of space incorporating a Knowledge Exchange Zone, teaching and social space
- New public realm including on the George Street Mill Site to create a spine for future development, and public realm enhancements to Sandygate and Queens Lancashire Way
- Servicing and remediation of the George Street Mill site for future phases
- Towpath improvements between Westgate and Manchester Road to create improved access to the rail station and integrate the campus with the canal.
Manchester Road Rail Station Access for All
In recent years Burnley Manchester Road station has been upgraded and a new direct rail service to Manchester opened via the Todmorden Curve.
This project will complete the station masterplan and will increase the overall accessibility of the station to all passengers.
The development will deliver a new footbridge and passenger lifts, creating better connections between both platforms and the main station building, increasing accessibility to a wider range of destinations for a wider range of passengers.
Eastern Gateway, Town to Turf
This project aims to create a gateway between the town centre and Turf Moor incorporating a high-quality public realm, a new four-way junction replacing the Yorkshire Street roundabout, cleaning and restoration work to the Culvert, and pavement widening in front of the football club.
The works will complement planned investment in the stadium including a major face lift to the stadium stretching from the corner of Belverdere Road, including LED lighting and a major investment in the James Hargreaves stand to create a hospitality and conferencing venue.
The Town Centre Masterplan public realm strategy identifies an east-west axis through the town from Turf Moor in the east to the canalside UCLAN campus in the west.
The extension of public realm works along Yorkshire street will create a mile long promenade connecting the UCLAN campus, retail core and Turf Moor.
Burnley Council leader Coun. Afrasiab Anwar said: “The council has worked tirelessly with partners to develop these projects and the bid. If the bid is successful, it will see a significant investment that will help transform the face of Burnley and make it more attractive to residents, visitors, shoppers and investors.
"It will build on other investment schemes in the town centre, such as the planned Pioneer Place leisure development, the town centre refurbishment, and the lower St James’ Street heritage action zone.
"These are exciting and ambitious plans and we’re confident that, with government support, we can deliver them to create a better future for our borough. This is the first step in delivering on the priorities of this administration and shows our commitment to moving the borough forward.”
Antony Higginbotham MP said: “I was elected on a clear promise to level up Burnley and Padiham and that’s exactly what this bid is all about. It follows on from over a year of banging the drum for our area in Parliament, making sure that we are no longer forgotten. Because when I said I would bring Government focus and investment to Burnley I meant it.
"If successful, this investment will bring major benefits to people and businesses across the borough and will act as a springboard for further investment from Government and business. This funding would be transformative, enabling us to create a thriving local economy where people want to work, live, and set up business”.