Investment boost for Pennine Lancashire

Steve HoyleThe new financial year has started with a welcome boost for the Pennine Lancashire area. The North West Development Agency has announced a £20 million investment package for the area over the next 12 months as the first stage in a £210 million investment programme spread over 10 years.

The funding was announced by NWDA Chief Executive Stephen Broomhead and is tied into a Joint Investment Plan, agreed with local government leaders.

The Joint Investment Plan or JIP is a blueprint for how the various public sector bodies operating across the area will jointly invest their resources to boost the regeneration of the area.

So how will the money be spent? Essentially the funding has been allocated to a range of initiatives that will address a list of priorities agreed between the NWDA and Pennine Lancashire.

Some of these are site specific, such as continued investment in the former Michelin site in Burnley, and other relate to a list of agreed economic growth sectors – aerospace, advanced manufacturing, medical, digital and creative industries and the visitor industries, sectors whose growth is seen as crucial to the future of the Pennine Lancashire economy.

Significant sums, over £3 million in total will be invested in developing the aerospace sector, including helping businesses in the supply chains of the larger aerospace companies to keep pace with developments in skills and technology.

£1 million will be invested in opening up a new employment site – Burnley Bridge – adjoining junction 9 on the M65 motorway. This includes building a new bridge over the canal to link the site to the motorway junction. The site is as ideal for logistics businesses.

In Pendle the priority for investment will be in Nelson town centre where the funding will be used to improve infrastructure to encourage new investment in the main shopping area.

In Blackburn the largest scheme is an initiative called Blackburn Knowledge Zone, focusing on a new commercial sector adjoining the remodelled Blackburn College Campus with its new University Centre.

At one end of the site work is well underway to provide a new integrated health centre for the Primary Care Trust. The overall scheme will extend as far as the landmark Freckleton Street Bridge and will ultimately provide new sites and premises for knowledge based industries.

It is also hoped that it will prove a popular location with new enterprises spinning out of the University Campus.

Included in the programme for future investment are the Adrenaline Gateway, projects in Accrington and Rawtenstall town centres, the Barrow Brook Business Park in the Ribble Valley and the Whitebirk Strategic Employment site.

This sets the framework for building confidence and encouraging private sector investment across the patch.

Steve Hoyle, executive director, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire.