ALMOST 60 buildings could be transformed, and 90 students and apprentices given training, or job opportunities, if a £2million initiative to revive Bacup’s fortunes is realised.

Supporters of the Townscape Heritage Initiative for Bacup will submit their full bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in July.

But their initial plans already show a far-reaching project, designed to turn the struggling valley town into the next Ramsbottom, or Hebden Bridge.

Economic development manager David Presto said on the bid form: “We have an opportunity to make a massive difference to Bacup and its 15,000 residents through this THI scheme and complementary initiatives, to which the council has already committed.

“Bacup is small enough for this initiative to be transformational, so breaking the negative economic cycle, and putting the town on a path to a much better future.”

The work would build on previous attempts to promote Bacup’s historic aspect, including European funding which was used to create a history trail, and English Heritage’s efforts to preserve Victorian property in Yorkshire Street.

A similar initiative in Darwen, launched in 2006, saw 25 historic buildings renovated, and work is still ongoing, also under the THI programme, to regenerate Burnley’s Weaver’s Triangle district.

In Bacup, one of the focuses will be the town’s Union Square market, where specialist sales covering the arts and rural produce will be considered. Proposals will also be drawn up for a bandstand.

Traders in the town centre conservation area will also be encouraged to ditch unsympathetic shutters and satelite dishes, and improve signage.

One success story in the town centre has already been the private redevelopment of the Pioneer Buildings, in Rochdale Road, which are now home to a range of shops, Dansworks Academy, and the town’s Conservative Club.

Mr Presto said that 20 students should receive work placements during the course of the THI scheme, and six local contractors would receive professional development training.

Another 40 are expected to receive work experience through valley firms, and 30 volunteers, recommended through Accrington and Rossendale College, would also benefit from on-the-job training.

It is hoped that around 1,000 people will be reached through a series of taster days, outreach programmes, and workshops, while the THI project is ongoing.