Blackburn with Darwen has been announced as a new Government Levelling Up Partner – unlocking £20m of new funding.
As part of his budget announcement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed hundreds of millions of pounds in targeted funding to help regenerate local areas, including creating the 20 new partnerships.
The £20m for Blackburn with Darwen will help pave the way for a brand new skills and education campus of national significance.
The proposal is part of the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan – thought to be the largest town centre regeneration scheme of its type in the region.
Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council said:
This is fantastic news for our borough.
The Council is carving out a really strong reputation for Blackburn with Darwen as a place to invest and do business and this further cements that.
We have a £1bn vision for the future underpinned by six strategic plans for growth – they have the potential to make the area one of the most important economic centres in the North.
Driving this is our determination to create a more prosperous borough where no one is left behind – improving the lives of our residents.
And when we look at our performance over the last decade, we’re already starting to close the economic gaps against national benchmarks.
We’re also outperforming 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.
This new funding will help us build on that and we’re looking forward to working out the finer details with Government.
Blackburn with Darwen Council submitted two compelling Levelling Up bids to Government last year – securing £20m in January for improvements to Junction 5 of the M65 and transport links in that surrounding area.
A second bid to help bring forward the plans for a £60m skills and education campus will now receive £20m of funding too.
Both schemes are central to delivering the Council’s ambitious, long-term growth strategy which links to new major opportunities at Samlesbury Enterprise Zone – including the planned relocation of the Government’s new National Cyber Force HQ.
Councillor Riley added:
We worked extremely hard on our bids in order to secure the funding for our borough so to have now been awarded the full £40m we originally asked for is brilliant.
The plans for the skills and education campus are part of our £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan for the former Thwaites site and the surrounding area.
This could be truly transformational – part of what is thought to be the largest town centre regeneration of its type in the whole region.
This scheme has all the markings of being a fine example of true levelling up and the funding will help bring it forward our plans by five years.
The Blackburn with Darwen Council Growth and Development Team, led by Martin Kelly, also helped secure the full £25m of Government Town Deal funding available for Darwen.
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.