A FIRM which sets up trendy 'co-working spaces' for small businesses and entrepreneurs is to invest up to £5million in East Lancashire – with plans for new offices in Blackburn, Burnley and Colne.

Thrive, which already has hubs in Warrington and Wigan, has submitted plans to convert the former Calder Print base, in Burnley, into a space for about 100 workers.

The company said it was also planning to launch offices in Blackburn and Colne over the next 12 months.

The 19th century former mill, on Manchester Road, which borders the Leeds-Liverpool canal, will be converted into 19 separate working spaces at a cost of around £250,000.

The spaces will retain the best of the original features of the building including exposed brick work, a spokesman said.

The base will be named the Mill and will benefit from a meeting room, free high speed broadband and Wi-Fi, a staffed reception, a break-out area and shower facilities.

Matthew Settle, managing director, said: “The Mill is a great building and we are sure it will be a fantastic addition to our network.

"Our other locations have proved very popular with everyone from start-ups and individual freelancers to small businesses employing up to 10 or more staff.

“Our occupiers benefit from automatic membership to Club Thrive, which allows them to use our facilities at other locations as well as connecting to other Club Thrive members. 

"We aim to grow the business considerably over the next six months, and in addition to the Mill, we have plans to open at Bolton, Blackburn, Oldham, Cheadle and Widnes as well as having operations in Blackpool, South Yorkshire and the North East in the pipeline.”

If the planning application is successful, it is hoped the Mill will be open by the autumn.

The Mill is located in the Weavers Triangle conservation area of Burnley and it has been owned by the team behind Thrive since December last year.

Launched in 2016, Thrive provides modern, flexible and affordable work space for individuals and businesses looking for a high quality and impressive office environment in a location convenient to them.

Two new spaces will open at Miller House, Bolton and Foundry House, Widnes in the autumn.

Over the next 12 months Thrive will invest £5 million into hubs at Blackburn, Colne, Cheadle and Blackpool.