A SHAKE-up of several East Lancashire town centres is on the cards after it was announced £500,000 in high street grants is heading to the region.
Blackburn-with-Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Pendle will receive £100,000 each from the High Street Innovation Fund.
Several bids to become one of 12 ‘Portas Towns’, a cash incentive to revitalise jaded shopping hubs, have been lodged by locations such as Darwen, Nelson, Rawtenstall and Clitheroe.
But this extra cash, confirmed by housing minister Grant Shapps, is part of a separate £10million pot. designed to bring empty shops back into use.
Brian Bailey, Blackburn council’s regeneration director, said: “Supporting and improving our town centres is one of our top priorities.
“This funding will help us to bring other plans, to help strengthen both town centres and support local businesses, forward more quickly.”
Coun Clare Pritchard, deputy leader of Hyndburn Council, said she had lobbied Mr Shapps about the original scheme not being wide-ranging enough and was ‘pleased he had listened’.
Ideas for how Hyndburn’s allocation, available to Accrington, Great Harwood and Rishton, should be spent will now be the subject of a six-week consultation exercise.
“We can use it to reduce business rates, tackle vacant properties or a combination of ideas,” she added.
Colin Hill, Burnley Council’s facilities head, said a decision on the borough’s £100,000 would be made once it was known whether Portas Town bids for Burnley’s Standish Street or the centre of Padiham, have been successful.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “This is more good news for Burnley and will allow to us to continue to develop the area and make the most of what we have to offer.”
Rossendale council leader Coun Alyson Barnes added: “This money will enable us to look at issues with empty shops across all our town centres.”