BURNLEY Council has produced the first draft of its vision for 2030, including a new permanent travellers’ site as reported yesterday. It wants residents to help create the final version submitted to ministers next year. Local government reporter Bill Jacobs has been looking at politicians’ ambitions for the borough and how they intend to make them a reality BURNLEY, Padiham and surrounding villages will be home to thousands of wealthy, ambitious young commuters earning their living in the big cities of Manchester, Leeds and Preston by 2030.

Its days as an isolated East Lancashire former mill town will be long gone if borough leader Julie Cooper and her planners have their way.

New and improved road and rail links and between 900 and 2,250 mainly executive new homes will draw upwardly mobile 20 and 30-somethings who want a relaxed lifestyle amid beautiful countryside away from big city bustle to the borough.

Coun Cooper admits the vision set out in a 179-page consultation document is ‘a big change’ in how the borough is traditionally viewed, saying: “The days of Burnley being an isolated mill town are past.”

She wants to build on its recent title of the UK’s ‘most enterprising area’ and the reopening of the Todmorden Curve direct rail link to Manchester later this year and capitalise on its low property prices, lovingly-preserved Victorian buildings, parks and open spaces and rural setting in a bowl of hills to make it the ‘place of choice’ for aspiring young people in the North.

Coun Cooper said: “It is a two pronged approach, attracting wealthy young commuters to our borough to kick-start an economy of modern, hi-tech industries and thriving leisure and night-time activities where they can spend their money.”

The plan’s vision of the borough in 2030 states: “Its excellent road and rail links to Manchester, Preston and Leeds and its attractive countryside setting have encouraged people to move into the town and Burnley’s population has grown significantly over the past 10 years.

“The borough’s rich industrial heritage, the unique character of the canal, now flanked by contemporary houses, cafes and bars, its fine Victorian Parks and ready access to the upland moorlands of the Pennines have seen the town firmly established as a prime residential location for the Manchester city region.”

The plan envisages the borough pressing for better cross-Pennine road and rail links, improvements to the M65 West to Preston and major upgrades of the route via the M66 to Manchester as part of the Lancashire county transport plan.

To meet the needs of potential new residents, it wants to boost Burnley as a shopping hub and turn empty retail premises into cafes, bars and upmarket restaurants while redeveloping Padiham town centre as a Hebden Bridge-style network of niche shops, craft workshops, specialist cafes and bars to complement rather than compete with its bigger neighbour.

The draft plan identifies sites for rural executive homes on main roads into the borough and the outskirts of the urban core including the former Ridgewood High School, Higher Saxifield, Hollins Cross Farm, off Rossendale Road, behind the Bull and Butcher on Manchester Road and North of Bronte Avenue.

Town centre ‘brownfield’ housing sites include Branch Road, Colne Road the former Hameldon Schools, and land once used by Dorma on Casterton Avenue and Baxi in Padiham.

The planners hope as a spin off, families and singletons coming into the borough will buy and upgrade some of the thousands of cheap terraced houses, perhaps two or three and knocking them together for less than the price of a city centre apartment or a house in a popular Manchester suburb.

It foresees a major boost to post-16 education with new university developments and hi-tech jobs around the Weaver’s Triangle and Knowledge and Burnley Bridge Business Parks.

While everything is options, it also proposes opening Burnley’s culverted waterways to reduce flooding and enhance the town centre’s attractiveness and encouraging horse riding centres on the hills to cater for the new wealthier residents.

Planners want residents to download the document from the council website, contact officials with their views and attend drop-in sessions around the borough on the plan later this year.