Councils propose canal regeneration scheme

A new study has been launched to assess the feasibility of rejuvenating the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal as a place to live, play and be inspired.

The project is led by Lancashire County Council, Canal & River Trust, The Super Slow Way and the four local authorities in the east of the county. It has also received funding from Arts Council England.

By creating the Pennine Lancashire Linear Park, the 20-mile stretch of canal could become a visitor destination offering extreme and water sports facilities, places to eat, drink and host arts and culture programmes, and house an array of regenerative agriculture initiatives. 

Properties including Northlight Mill in Brierfield, UCLan's new campus at Sandygate Square in Burnley, the Coke Ovens in Hyndburn and Imperial Mill in Blackburn could be repurposed, refurbished and utilised. The canal would also become a home for both water and land-based biodiversity.

The work would create opportunities for communities disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the area’s South Asian communities, which comprise a high proportion of the canal corridor’s population which ranks as among the worst affected areas in the UK.

Laurie Peake, director of The Super Slow Way said: "This is a vision that is much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a vision of East Lancashire as a blueprint for a post-Covid recovery in areas ravaged by the pandemic as it moves towards a carbon neutral future.

"This is a vision that can only be delivered if everyone that has a stake in this region works towards one goal – that, by 2030, it will be a flagship for a new, green economy, with stronger, healthier communities in a landscape that has become a visitor destination."

Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Lancashire County Council, said: "The canal corridor offers significant environmental and economic potential. The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on all our communities, with many people appreciating the importance and value of culture and leisure in their lives.

"The creative industry and green economy sector can be a significant driver in developing our economy in new ways, not just as we recover from the impact of the pandemic, but as part of longer-term plans. We are keen for this to be in ways which can include all citizens, improving their quality of life and our environment."

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