£20m of new Levelling Up funding announced for Blackburn with Darwen

Published 07th Mar 2024

Blackburn with Darwen Council has successfully secured £20m of new Levelling Up funding from Government – taking the grand total to more than £125m.

The announcement comes after months of hard work between Council and Government officials, who have together developed a strong investment package to support town centre growth priorities.

At the heart of the bid is an impressive £8m to renovate the ever-popular King George’s Hall – the jewel in the crown of Blackburn’s new £50m Cultural Quarter.

There’ll also be new investment for the likes of Tony’s Ballroom, The Exchange and Imperial Mill.

Creating new jobs and supporting businesses is high on the agenda too with money secured for Blackburn College to deliver new cyber and digital skills opportunities, a pioneering AMRC development in Darwen, and a cash injection to support the re-purposing of local business support networks.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Phil Riley, said:

“The good news for Blackburn with Darwen just keeps on coming!

“After a tremendous amount of work in developing a really strong investment package for our borough, the Government has today announced £20m of new Levelling Up Funding for us which is just brilliant.

“This comes on the back of the Council being named a Government Levelling Up Partner in the Budget last year and tops up the £40m we secured in 2023.

“Added to that, we have the Darwen Town Deal, the money we secured through the Youth Investment Fund, the UKSPF and more recently the chance to secure a further £20m for Darwen, as part of the Long Term Plan for Towns initiative, with more to come on completion of our Devo Deal with Government too.

“We really are on a roll!”

Councillor Riley added:

“We have a proud and proven track record of delivering here in Blackburn with Darwen and the amount of funding we are securing is testament to that.

“The Government has real confidence in us as a Council and in our ability to make sure every single penny counts.

“They know we’ll spend the money wisely and on projects that will make a real difference, projects that are important to our residents and to our businesses.

“Indeed, town centres are hugely important, and this latest investment package has a strategic focus on culture – something that is helping to transform our offers with great success.”

In recent years, Blackburn with Darwen has successfully secured:

  • £20m from the Levelling Up Partnership announced today by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove
  • £20m of Levelling Up funding for a new Skills, Education and Cyber Zone – part of the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan – the largest town centre regeneration scheme of its type in the whole region on the former Thwaites site. This will help unlock opportunities brought by the re-location of the National Cyber Force to neighbouring Samlesbury
  • £20m of Levelling Up funding for transport links in and around Haslingden Road, including much-needed improvements to J5 of the M65
  • £25m for Darwen Town Deal – now worth £100m with Council and private investment
  • £8m through the Youth Investment Fund to transform facilities for children and young people across the borough – the most awarded to any one place in the country last summer
  • £6m through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – helping to support communities and place, local businesses, people and skills
  • The chance to bid for up to £20m through the Government’s Long Term Plan for Towns for Darwen – a business case for that is set to be submitted this summer

Plus, the Government this week also announced £116m of new funding for transport priorities across the borough too.

Councillor Riley adds:

“We are unashamedly pro-growth here in Blackburn with Darwen.

“That’s because we want every single resident, no matter who they are, to achieve a good quality of life – as our Corporate Plan says, we’re on a mission to create a more prosperous borough where no-one is left behind.

“To achieve this, we have a £1bn vision for the future underpinned by strong, strategic plans and we have a brand-new Local Plan – our blueprint for the future, something very few councils have.

“We are also renowned for partnership working too – something we take great pride in.

“A good example I like to use is the Darwen Town Deal. We secured the full £25m available from Government and worked with our partners to use it to unlock £100m of new investment – more money for Darwen than any of us have seen in our lifetimes.

“Again, I’d like to thank the Government for having faith in us – we will make the very most of every opportunity they put our way.”

This week, Chief Executive of Blackburn with Darwen Council, Denise Park, was also invited by Government to the Netherlands to present on the success of the Levelling Up Partnership to their Government officials there.

More details about how the funding will be spent will be announced once the details are finalised with Government.

You can read more about each of the investments in the brand-new Shuttle Extra magazine which will start to be delivered from March 5th.

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