Nelson town centre has been handed a "once in a lifetime" £25m. opportunity to be transformed by Government cash.
The good news was announced this morning by the Government that Nelson had been chosen to be one of 100 towns across the country to share a part of the £3.6 billion New Towns Fund - up to £25m. each.
The 100 places invited to develop proposals for a new generation of multi-million-pound Town Deals were announced this morning by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson welcomed the announcement.
Mr Stephenson said: "This announcement of up to £25m. funding for a range of projects across Nelson will be transformative and is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reverse the decades long decline of the town.
"I am delighted about this as I have met Robert Jenrick and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry a number of times to make the case for a range of projects in Nelson and across Pendle.
"Over the last few years we have seen millions of pounds invested at the outstanding Nelson and Colne College, two brand new primary school buildings (St Paul's and Whitefield) and investments in sporting facilities, but this funding means we can really transform the area.
"The best news is this money is in addition to the £675m. Future High Streets Fund, where I am also lobbying hard in support of bids from Barnoldswick, Colne and Nelson."
The towns eligible for support from the £3.6 billion Towns Fund include places with proud industrial and economic heritage but have not always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.
Communities, businesses and local leaders will now join forces to draw up ambitious plans to transform their town’s economic growth prospects with a focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture.
Pendle Council leader Coun. Mohammed Iqbal said he was delighted with the news and that the council would put residents at the heart of planning how the money would be spent to help transform Nelson.
Coun. Iqbal said: "I'm absolutely delighted. This is a significant amount of money, and I want to involve local residents and traders in helping us decide how we spend that money.
"I will be meeting with senior officers in the coming days to discuss how we will do that."
Coun. Iqbal said that he believed Nelson town centre was "too big" and needed reconfiguring to reflect the changing nature of town centres. He also said transport connectivity had become an issued which needed rectifying.
He added: "I think Nelson needs a different appeal now. Retail is struggling. I would like to see more leisure and cultural services within the town centre. I think it needs reconfiguring.
"I also plan to seek meetings with bus and rail companies about improving transport connectivity to the town centre. We have been given a lot of money but it has to be spent wisely."
Coun. Zafar Ali, chairman of Nelson Town Council, said: “I will be urging my colleagues at town and borough level to consult widely with the public to ensure everyone’s views are taken on board so that we can regenerate in all areas. We have to carry on lobbying the Government for maximum funding from these funds so that we’re able to transform key areas of our town.”
The Government will publish a guide on how towns will move through the town deals process, which will also inform on the criteria eligable to benefit from the funding.