Published February 21, 2019 at 16:18
Councillors are set to agree to ring fence nearly £200,000 to support Haslingden town centre as a fresh bid for funding is prepared.
Working with the recently re-established Haslingden Taskforce, Rossendale Council is preparing a bid for Heritage Funding.
A bid was made last year and while unsuccessful, the Council received many positive comments and has been encouraged to submit a further one this year.
Rossendale Council is to agree to create a match funding pot of £160,000 to specifically support the new bid at its meeting on February 27.
The Council’s recently adopted economic development strategy identifies the borough’s town centres as the number one priority for focus.
Councillor Alyson Barnes, leader of the Council, said:
“We all have heard the stories of how difficult and tough it is for the high street at the moment. But as we can see from what is happening in Rawtenstall, with a bit of imagination, vision and partnership working, town centres can buck that national trend. What we need is more funding so we are always interested in any pot of money we can bid for.
“Hopefully our bid for Heritage funding for Haslingden will be successful. We have already spoken to residents and businesses to create a vision for the town centre but we need money to make it into reality. I hope everyone in the town gets behind our bid as it is much needed. Improving Haslingden is a top priority for this Council and I am personally committed to working with everyone to achieve a better Haslingden. Our search to secure further investment will be ceaseless.”
The Council is also looking to put Bacup town centre forward for recently announced government funding.
£675m is available nationally to help town centres adapt to the changes in the way people shop and use them.
There is strict criteria, but following detailed analysis work by the economic development team, the Council felt Bacup most closely matched what the government was looking for as the town has the highest concentration of vacant shop premises and derelict buildings.
The government criteria confirmed Rossendale could only put forward one town centre.
Competition for the funding is likely to be very fierce with Councils across the country looking to be making bids.
Councillor Barnes said:
“For this fund, we have to put forward the town centre which best meets the criteria. We believe, following detailed work, that Bacup has the best chance of succeeding.
“Bacup has already benefited hugely from investment we have brought in. You just have to look around to see the difference the £2m has made. But it still has many challenges especially with empty properties.
“If we are successful, I want to see this as more than just bringing funding into the town. I want to use it as a basis for developing a new relationship between the Council and the people and businesses of Bacup.
“The THI did deliver but there were bumps along the way. We learnt a lot from it. Processes can definitely be improved.
“I hope residents and businesses get behind our bid for this funding. I believe we have more chance of success if government can see we are all working together.
“I will also be asking Jake Berry, as the local MP and also Minister for Northern Powerhouse, for his full backing on our bid. Hopefully, he can use his influence to improve the chance of us being successful.”
The Council will look to work with the Bacup Business Association, individual businesses, landlords and community organisations throughout this process to shape the expression of interest.
The Council is also encouraging residents to give their views by completing the online questionnaire in the coming weeks
The expression of interest will be made by March 22 with the strongest bids in England invited to submit a more detailed application later in the year.