Published Tuesday 26 July 2022 at 14:41
Blackburn with Darwen Council has revealed its ‘compelling’ bids for £40m of Levelling-Up Funding.
The local authority has outlined how the first £20m would be used to accelerate the first phase of its £250m masterplan for Blackburn town centre – the largest development of its kind in the North West.
A successful LUF bid would unlock plans for a brand new £60m skills and education campus of national significance with a cluster of university, training and education leaders.
It’s part of a proposed Business Innovation District which could contribute £1bn of new economic activity over the next decade.
Its second bid, for a further £20m, would deliver significant transport infrastructure improvements to the south of Blackburn – including upgrading Junction 5 of the M65 motorway.
Both closely link to the Council’s ambitious Blackburn Growth Axis plans which have the potential to make the borough one of the most important economic centres in the North with the opportunity to support 100,000 jobs in the area.
The Axis links to the adjacent Samlesbury Enterprise Zone – soon to be home to the new National Cyber Force HQ – making Blackburn an integral part of the Government’s new Northern Cyber Corridor running from Lancaster to Manchester.
It also connects new growth opportunities generated by local business clusters and HQ developments anchored by global companies, including BAE Systems and Blackburn-based EuroGarages and Assystems.
Councillor Phil Riley, the new Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
I’m incredibly proud to be fronting these compelling Levelling-Up Fund bids which could be truly transformational for our borough and indeed the whole region.
The £40m would immediately unlock a further £50m of investment and would accelerate our plans for the skills campus by a good five years while setting out the infrastructure we need to underpin our ambitious plans as part of the Blackburn Growth Axis.
We are carving out a strong reputation as a growing borough and we know that this level of funding would support us to deliver our bold vision – helping us to reach our new economic future much more quickly.
The Growth and Development Team at Blackburn with Darwen Council, headed up by Strategic Director, Martin Kelly, is also finalising the business cases for £25m of Government Town Deal funding secured for Darwen – the full amount available.
With Council and private investment, it’ll see £100m ploughed in to the town in the next five years with transformational plans for the town centre, business growth and skills.
Added to that, is the UK Shared Prosperity Fund Investment Plan too – which could be worth a further £20m with co-investment from the Council’s delivery partners.
Councillor Riley added:
When we look at our growth performance over the last decade, Blackburn with Darwen is already starting to close the economic gaps against national benchmarks.
We are out performing our regional comparators in terms of the economic value of what we generate, the jobs we are creating and the new homes we are providing.
The Levelling-Up Fund and the UKSPF, alongside the already secured Town Deal, could bring impressive change, unlocking significant growth opportunities and allowing us to progress with our proposals at real pace.
We’ve worked hard to develop extremely strong bids to put us in the best possible position and we’re looking forward to the Government reviewing our applications and revealing more details in the summer.