Brighter prospects for Pennine Lancashire
2010 will pose many challenges for the Pennine Lancashire economy, which covers the Boroughs of Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley and Rossendale.
Money for new investment is still in short supply due to the upheaval in the financial sector over the past 18 months.
The signs are that jobs will continue to be lost in traditional manufacturing sectors, but there are some indications that new manufacturing industries based on advances in technology and innovation will help to create more employment.
Pennine Lancashire has real strengths in aerospace and advanced manufacturing, both of which are expected to grow. Other sectors, such as bio-medical industries, creative and digital industries and the visitor economy all offer potential for investment and employment growth.
Regenerate Pennine Lancashire is a new development company set up by the six local councils and Lancashire County Council, with initial funding from the Homes and Communities Agency, the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), partner local authorities and the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative (LEGI).
It aims to stimulate the economy by delivering major development projects and regeneration programmes. The new company will take on board the successful No Limits initiative which encourages new business starts and enterprise activities.
To date over 900 new businesses have been launched and the target is to help a further 500 businesses over the coming year.
Regenerate Pennine Lancashire will also continue to improve the area’s housing offer through the Housing Market Renewal programme.
This initiative is helping to stabilise the housing market and is bringing about real change in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods. The company will work with local authorities, developers and housing associations to deliver the housing that local communities need.
Local authorities will shortly have agreed a priority list of major development projects for the whole of Pennine Lancashire: this will form the nucleus of a development programme for the next 5-10 years.
It includes the Whitebirk Strategic employment site, which it is hoped will accommodate 3000 jobs; other important developments are proposed for Nelson, Clitheroe and Rawtenstall town centres, working in conjunction with the local authorities and businesses in those areas.
Regenerate Pennine Lancashire will also support businesses that want to expand or relocate to the area, working closely with the NWDA and Business Link.
The focus will be on identifying the businesses and sectors which have the potential to grow, and ensuring that there are sufficient new developments to accommodate them.
In parallel with this, housing initiatives will help ensure that there is a good mix of accommodation in the area, from affordable homes to executive housing, to provide for the future workforce.
Steve Hoyle, executive director, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire.