£20m for county’s ‘overlooked’ towns

By Ged Henderson

03 Oct 2023

Darwen Aerial

Four ‘overlooked’ Lancashire towns will receive £20m each over the next decade as part of the government’s levelling up agenda.

Accrington, Burnley, Darwen and Nelson are among 55 towns across the country that will benefit from the £1.1bn funding.

Announcing the latest levelling up initiative, the government said the cash was part of “a long-term plan” for towns that have been “overlooked and taken for granted”.

The four towns are among 10 in the North West that will benefit. They will receive a ten-year £20 million endowment-style fund to be spent on local people’s priorities, like regenerating local high streets and town centres or securing public safety.   

Town boards will be set up to to bring together community leaders, employers, local authorities, and the local MP, to deliver a long-term plan for their town that will be put local people for consultation. 

They will also be able to use “a suite of regeneration powers” to unlock more private sector investment by auctioning empty high street shops, reforming licensing rules on shops and restaurants, and supporting more housing in town centres.

In a statement the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “More than half the population live in towns, but half-empty high streets, run-down town centres and anti-social behaviour undermine towns in every part of the UK.

“Today’s announcement marks a change in approach that will put an end to people feeling like their town is ignored by Westminster and empower communities to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people.”  

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Our Long-Term Plan for Towns puts funding in the hands of local people themselves to invest in line with their priorities, over the long-term. That is how we level up.

Government levelling up secretary Michael Gove added: “For too long, too many of our great British towns have been overlooked and undervalued. 

“This will empower communities in every part of the UK to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people. It will mean more jobs, more opportunities and a brighter future for our towns and the people who live and work in them.”

The government has also announced a new ‘Towns Taskforce, sitting in the department for levelling up and reporting directly to the Prime Minister and levelling up secretary.

It will help town boards to develop their plans, and advise them on how best to take advantage of government policies, unlock private and philanthropic investment and work with communities.     

A new ‘High Streets and Towns Task Force’ will also be established providing each selected town with bespoke, hands-on support.  

Enjoyed this? Read more from Ged Henderson

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