Lancashire scoops Covid recovery cash for major projects in the county

Lancashire is to get £34m of government cash to invest in projects designed to help kick start the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Six weeks ago, the county answered a call from ministers to identify so-called “shovel-ready” schemes where national investment could speed up the delivery of local developments that were already in the pipeline.

Lancashire’s provisional pitch was for a total of £62.5m across 16 projects, but the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands that the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has since prioritised 10 schemes that equated to the county’s indicative £34.1m allocation under the government’s Getting Building Fund – which has now been secured in full.

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Projects given the go-ahead include the long-planned Heyhouses link road in Fylde and an assisted living development in Chorley. Burnley has won £3.6m for the Pioneer Place leisure and retail regeneration project, which includes the relocation of the REEL Cinema from its current out-of-town base.

Lancashire has sceured 34.1m to invest in 10 projectsLancashire has sceured 34.1m to invest in 10 projects
Lancashire has sceured 34.1m to invest in 10 projects

Amongst the six proposals that were ultimately left out of the bid to government were some of those which required the most cash – including £8m for infrastructure works connected to the Eden Project North in Morecambe and a combined £10m on the development of two thermal treatment processes to be used in the management of nuclear materials in Preston.

It is understood that the projects that did not make the shortlist may still be put forward as and when other funding opportunities arise.

The most expensive of the Lancashire schemes to have won government backing on this occasion is the link route that will join Heyhouses Lane in Lytham St. Annes to an existing roundabout at Cropper Road and Whitehill Road on the outskirts of Blackpool. It was originally given the green light back in 2012, following a public inquiry into the development of more than 1,000 new homes off Queensway.

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The £5.8m secured for the route is the final tranche of public sector funding necessary to get the £27m project going. Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways, Keith Iddon, said that the authority was at the point of stumping up the remaining cash itself – in addition to around £4m which it had already invested.

“This announcement saves council taxpayers some money – and saves motorists having to travel so far to get onto the M55. It also relieves congestion in this area,” He said.

County council leader Geoff Driver added: “Journey times and reliability are crucial for securing new business investment, and this new road is vital to support the future growth of the Fylde coast economy.”

Chorley is one of three areas – along with Blackpool and Wyre – to secure two projects as part of the Getting Building Fund. The first is a £2.2m scheme to create affordable office accommodation on the town’s Strawberry Fields development.

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The site, on Alker Lane, will be aimed at newly-created companies looking for their first base and also firms wanting to expand – with a particular push to attract the digital and creative sectors to the site.

The second project is a £5.5m redevelopment of the former Stagecoach bus depot on Eaves Lane to develop an “extra care” scheme. Based on a similar model to the Primrose Gardens development on the outskirts of the town centre, it will comprise 63 one and two-bedroomed apartments, where older people can live independently – but with on-site support and assistance should they need it.

A GP surgery and pharmacy will also be built on the plot, while the park and gardens at Tatton Recreation Ground will undergo landscape work. The overall Tatton scheme is also expected to feature 14 “low-rise” residential dwellings, of which around a third will be designated as affordable housing.

Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley said that both schemes will “deliver economic and social benefits for residents”.

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“To have two projects chosen in the Chorley borough is testament to the fact that we’re a forward-thinking authority that is always planning ahead to improve things for our residents and businesses. We look forward to working with the Lancashire LEP to finalise the detail and we’ll keep people posted as these developments progress.”

A third scheme that Chorley had on the provisional funding list – for an unspecified development on the site of the former council depot on Bengal Street – was not ultimately pitched to the government, but the LDRS understands that it remains at the investigatory stage by Chorley Council.

Meanwhile, Lancashire County Council says that omission of the Eden Project North from the final funding list does not in any way jeopardise the scheme. £8m had been sought for “transport management and capacity investment”.

The authority’s executive director for growth, transport, environment and community services , Stephen Young, said the development was still “a massive priority, not just for Lancashire, but the whole of the North of England”.

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“We saw this as an opportunity to submit a bid to fund a lot of the infrastructure. It wasn’t for Eden itself, because the funding was for schemes that had to be completed by March 2023, – so instead it was for some [of the associated works] that could have been completed by that time.

“It may have been that the criteria for funding had to be around job creation – and infrastructure spending doesn’t create many jobs beyond the building process. However, we didn’t know the methodology being used or what we were being judged against,” Mr. Young explained.

Back in June, the county council – together with the standalone authorities in Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen – produced a document entitled “Redefining Lancashire”, in which they set out a pitch to government for a total of £2bn of broader support for the county to help it recover from the pandemic.

Chair of the LEP, Steve Fogg, said of the £34m announced by the government this week: “All of the successful ten schemes have demonstrated they have the ability to accelerate growth and create employment, and we have chosen a really good mix of projects which will have an impact across the whole of the county.

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“The schemes range from regeneration projects in some of our towns which have been adversely impacted by Covid-19, to high-end research and development facilities which will contribute to the government’s clean growth agenda,” Mr. Fogg added.


Houndshill Shopping Centre, Blackpool

Leisure and retail-led extension, including:

• 9-screen Imax-style cinema

• 2 restaurants

• Relocated Wilko Store

Abingdon Street, Blackpool

A new retail and service offering designed to address the needs and demands of residents and visitors to provide a modern experience.

Pioneer Place, Burnley

Retail and leisure development on brownfiled site – includes relocation of REEL Cinema from its current out-of-town base and a branded food and drink outlet.

Alker Lane, Chorley

New commercial floorspace, including affordable office accommodation and industrial units – directed towards scale-ups, start-ups and new businesses promoting inward investment in the digital and creative sector.

Tatton Recreation Ground, Chorley

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Redevelopment of the former Stagecoach bus depot to develop an “extra care” scheme offering 63 one and two-bedroomed apartments, where older people can live independently. Also, provision of a GP surgery and pharmacy, with landscape work on the park and gardens at Tatton Recreation Ground. Plus, 14 “low-rise” residential dwellings, of which around a third will be designated as affordable housing.

Lancashire Centre for Alternative Technologies, Hyndburn/pan-Lancashire

Specialist support for the low-carbon sector, to help commercialise and showcase Lancashire’s green technology innovations.

Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, pan-Lancashire

Low-carbon building demonstrator will promote retrofittable smart building technologies for manufactures.

Project Neptune, Fleetwood Docks

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Mixed-use development, including a modern purpose-built fish park and enabling works for first phase of serviced land suitable for waterfront residential development.

Hillhouse Enterprise Zone, Wyre

Electrical, water and access infrastructure for all existing businesses and new occupants of the planned new-build Hillhouse International Business Park. Expected to create 200 jobs.

Heyhouses link road, Fylde

Connection between Heyhouses Lane in Lytham St. Annes and the existing roundabout at Cropper Road and Whitehill Road on the outskirts of Blackpool. Designed to provide an alternative route to the M55 and relieve congestion on the B5261.


Blackburn with Darwen

Digital education upskilling hub.


Bengal Street – developing the site currently occupied by a council depot.


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Eden Project North, Morecambe – advance transport management and capacity investment.


Pendle Park enabling works


Development of two thermal treatment processes to be used in the management of nuclear materials