Next steps revealed for multi-million pound boost to Darwen

Published 21st Dec 2023

The Government has published guidance on how new funding announced for Darwen can be spent.

In October, the Prime Minister included Blackburn with Darwen Council on a list of local authorities that will receive funding for 55 towns across the country.

It means Darwen could benefit from up to £20m of support through its Long-Term Plans for Towns scheme.

The new published guidance sets out that the 55 towns will:

  • Receive up to £20 million of endowment-style funding and support for local priorities, like regenerating local high streets and town centres or securing public safety;
  • Set up a Town Board to bring together community leaders, employers, local authorities, and the local MP, to develop and deliver the Long-Term Plan for their town and put it to local people for consultation; and
  • Use a suite of regeneration powers and interventions to boost pride in place to unlock private sector investment, by auctioning empty high street shops, create and maintain parks and green spaces, and improve heritage sites.

Detailed plans will need to be submitted by August next year to secure the funding with it expected to be available to spend from 2025.

Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

“We are busy working through the new guidance which has just been shared by Government.

“We want to ensure we can secure as much of the Long-Term Plans for Towns funding as possible and put it to the very best use for Darwen – just like we’ve successfully done with the Darwen Town Deal.

“We secured the full £25m available from Government for that and with Council contributions and private investment and a lot of hard work, we’ve turned it into £100m – more funding than we’ll have ever seen in our lifetimes for the town.

“We’ll work through this guidance with a fine toothcomb and set to work on the detailed plans that need to be submitted by August 2024.

“Importantly, it’ll be the priorities identified by our residents, businesses and the Town Deal Board which will be at the heart of that plan and whatever we do, we will work hard to make sure it makes a real difference to the town centre while looking to improve our beloved parks and moors too.

“We are proud to be an ambitious Council with a track record of delivering and we’re also renowned for our strong partnership working to make a real difference for our communities.”

2024 is set to be a big year for Darwen with the transformation of Darwen Market Hall, Darwen Library and Theatre and Darwen Youth Centre all due to start.

It’ll see millions of pounds invested in the town centre through the Town Deal and Youth Investment Fund.

Councillor Riley added:

“The Council has a £1bn vision for the future – part of our mission to create a borough where no-one is left behind.

“We have successfully secured tens of millions of pounds of new investment for our borough in 2023 and have some really important projects coming forward in the New Year.

“We’ve also got Government Levelling-Up Partner status and the benefits that the proposed Lancashire Devolution Deal could bring. We are looking forward to more positive news early in the New Year on these measures.

“There’s a real sense of momentum in the borough and we are determined to keep building on that and pushing forward.

“While we don’t expect any of this new funding to be made available to us until 2025, we’ll be pressing for an earlier start to project delivery if possible.”

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