A HOUSING minister has praised efforts in Pendle to transform Victorian terraces into family homes during an official visit to Nelson and Brierfield.

Kris Hopkins toured parts of Whitefield and visited Brierfield Mill, the site of a £25million regeneration bid, with council leader Coun Joe Cooney, Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and borough chief executive Stephen Barnes.

Borough leaders have nearly halved the number of empty homes in Pendle from 2,100 in 2008 to around 1,200.

But the tour was dismissed as a publicity stunt by opposition Labour councillors - who insisted Pendle had missed out on millions since housing market renewal cash was axed in 2010.

Mr Hopkins was also shown around Quaker Heights, the former Lob Lane Mill renovated with Barnfield Construction and the council as part of the PEARL (Pendle Enterprise And Regeneration Limited) partnership.

And he inspected Brierfield Mill - now known as ‘Northlight’ - which could also house a cyber security park and generate 2,250 jobs, as well as the Whitefield Presbytery site, one of the latest given the go-ahead for redevelopment.

Mr Hopkins said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to come here. Hats off to Pendle Council. They’ve led this and they’re very strong. “Well done to them.”

Coun Cooney added: “We’re changing perceptions of Whitefield. This part of Pendle has completely changed and a new school is underway.

“I’m really proud of the work we’re doing. Although we’re a small council, we’ve huge and ambitious plans for Pendle.”

MP Mr Stephenson said: “I’m immensely proud of the transformation of Whitefield. It’s a remarkable achievement for Pendle.”

But Coun Mohammed Iqbal, Pendle’s Labour group leader, added: “While we welcome visits from ministers to Pendle, and our Tory MP and leader of the council can add pictures to their photo albums, what we need is actual financial investment to tackle the regeneration of homes in Pendle .

“It is clear that following the scrapping of the millions of pounds Pendle received prior to 2010, our MP has failed to deliver with investment.”