DARWEN and Nelson are among the 100 towns selected to benefit from a share of a £3.6 billion funding pot.

As part of the Government's Towns Fund, both will be eligible for up to £25 million of financial support.

Government bosses say the scheme will support towns to build prosperous futures.

Towns across England will work with the Government to develop innovative regeneration plans.

The 100 places invited to develop proposals for a new generation of multi-million-pound Town Deals have been announced by Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.

The towns eligible for support from the £3.6 billion Towns Fund include places with proud industrial and economic heritage but have not always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.

Communities, businesses and local leaders will now join forces to draw up ambitious plans to transform their town’s economic growth prospects with a focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture.

The Government will soon publish a prospectus to guide towns through the process and set eligibility criteria for funding.

Once approved, new Town Deals will improve connectivity, provide vital social and cultural infrastructure and boost growth – with communities having a say on how the money is spent.

Decisions on funding any proposals will be made in due course.

Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, said: “Ensuring that prosperity and opportunities are available to everyone in this country, not just those in London or our biggest cities is at the heart of the mission of this government.

“We want to level-up our great towns, raising living standards and ensuring they can thrive with transformative investment in transport, technology, skills and culture.

“I will now work with local people from the 100 communities announced today to agree proposals to invest up to £25 million in each place. I hope these deals will provide the investment and the impetus for long-term renewal ensuring each town can look to the future with a new optimism.”

READ > £25m funding boost 'once in a lifetime opportunity' for Nelson

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP said: “In July, the Prime Minister promised to level up 100 towns across the country, and today we’re delivering that promise.

“The best answers for local people will come from local people, that’s why we have listened to people living in these towns and will support them with a mega £3.6 billion fund to drive jobs and economic growth."

"For too long Darwen has been badly treated by Blackburn"

Northern Powerhouse minister and Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry said the cash would prove key to regenerating Darwen town centre.

He said: “This announcement shows that the Northern Powerhouse is not just about cities but about the regeneration of Northern Powerhouse towns for the future.

“It is about developing and spreading economic development and prosperity across the whole region.

“It is the equivalent for Lancashire towns of the City Deal the government agreed for Preston.”

Mr Berry added: “For a long time I have been campaigning for extra funds to redevelop the town centre.

“This releases money to regenerate Darwen and enable other improvements including the Lower Darwen Relief Road from Milking Lane.

“I am delighted that the government is making up to £25million available for the regeneration of Darwen and the redevelopment of its town centre.

“For too long Darwen has been badly treated by Blackburn.

“This government funding will finally enable work to start on regenerating Darwen to improve the town centre, create jobs, support businesses, and promote economic prosperity.

“This is very good news for Darwen indeed.”

Scepticism over timing of funding announcement

But there was a degree of scepticism from Blackburn with Darwen regeneration boss Cllr Phil Riley over the timing of the announcement.

He said: “This announcement is welcome but it seems something of a coincidence that it comes as we approach an early General Election.”

Earlier this year, the council funded a £1.5 million project to regenerate Darwen’s market square.

The project transformed the area to the front of the town hall and market, boasting a large outdoor area for events.

Seating has also been added as well as colourful landscaping with the addition of some beautiful flower beds.