Lancashire County Council has revealed the next round of projects agreed in principle which will receive a share of a bumper £12.8m fighting fund to help the local economy bounce back from the impacts of the Covid-19 virus.
The council has established the Lancashire Economic Recovery and Growth Fund to kickstart schemes which will create jobs in parts of the economy which have been hardest hit, and accelerate the development of initiatives which will stimulate growth and help to unlock further investment in the wake of the pandemic.
One of the key principles of the programme is to identify projects that can best advance rapid economic recovery with an emphasis on supporting Lancashire’s vital manufacturing sectors as well as town and city centre regeneration. This is the focus of early funding decisions which mark the start of a succession of future investments that will provide additional and long-lasting benefits over the medium to long-term.
The council’s cabinet gave the green light for the fund in September 2020 and a number of projects have now been approved.
• The Lancashire Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing (AEM) Watchtower project – a £1m scheme to protect the thousands of jobs in the county’s aerospace supply chain by identifying organisations that need, and will most benefit from, tailored coordinated business support, and help to engage them with the right support at the right time.
In South and West Lancashire:
• Funding to accelerate improvements to rail travel in South and West Lancashire. The Recovery and Growth Fund will provide match funding to support bids to the Department for Transport for separate studies to establish the business case for reopening the railway station at Midge Hall near Leyland, and restoring the Burscough Curves line in West Lancashire, which would open up two new rail routes in the south-west of the county.
• A major contribution towards work to prepare a new Regeneration Plan for Skelmersdale, including future development of the former Glenburn School site and playing fields which are owned by Lancashire County Council. This is the preferred site for the proposed Skelmersdale railway station, and work will take place to form an outline business case setting out options for the land surrounding the railway station in order to be prepared for opportunities to bid for further funding to develop the site.
On the Fylde Coast:
• Funding to assist Wyre Council to buy modern new-build commercial units in Fleetwood to safeguard the presence of existing food processing businesses, along with 86 skilled jobs, in the town. The purchase is part of the wider Project Neptune plan to regenerate the Docks and bring about linked regeneration of the Town Centre, and which includes further proposals to remediate former industrial land for future commercial and residential use to provide space for businesses to develop, and support the growth of the local economy.
In North Lancashire:
• Funding to support the next stage of the Heysham Gateway project being jointly taken forward by Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council who are seeking to make existing and potential employment areas better able to capitalise on the completion of the Bay Gateway, which has greatly improved road transport to the Heysham peninsula. Detailed work is now needed to investigate the feasibility of regenerating former industrial land in the Imperial Road area to attract new investment. The site will help attract new industries, particularly around low carbon and energy sectors, whilst providing additional employment site capacity close to the Heysham Port – one of Lancashire’s major transport infrastructure assets which supports key trade routes.
In East Lancashire:
• £150,000 towards the refurbishment of Rawtenstall Town Square. The scheme, being delivered by Rossendale Borough Council, will help to revitalise the town square, creating an outside meeting point, whilst supporting the hospitality sector and visitor economy, helping to stimulate further investment in the town.
• £200,000 towards improving Barnoldswick Town Centre through renewed public realm works that will widen pedestrian access and improve drainage systems.
County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning, said: “We have established the Lancashire Economic Recovery and Growth Fund in recognition that we have an important role to play in helping Lancashire bounce back quickly from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Before the virus struck, we were already working with partners across the county on an ambitious plan to secure massive investment to transform our economy and fully realise Lancashire’s potential for the benefit of all our residents, businesses and communities.
“That ambition has not changed, however there now needs to be a focus on supporting those areas of the economy hardest hit by the virus, and progressing projects which have the greatest potential to deliver their full benefits in the medium to long term.
“The Lancashire Economic Recovery and Growth Fund will help to kickstart that process in recognition that there are parts of our economy which we can help immediately, such as with the improvements to town centre environments, as well as a number of major projects we can begin to take forward in order to unlock further investment in the near future.
“These projects show how Lancashire has come together to plan a way forward to protect our economy, and help it grow in the future. By working together we can show what the county, our residents and our businesses have to offer.”