FUNDING has been approved for an elite cricket academy in Darwen.

The Darwen Town Deal Board has committed £25,000 to looking at the feasibility of creating the centre in the town.

It could be developed within the grounds of Darwen Vale High School, an academy sponsored by Aldridge Education, and would be part of a proposed new sporting village.

The money is part of £750,000 of funding provided by the Government as part of the Darwen Town Deal Fund.

Three projects have already been earmarked to benefit, including restoration of the iconic Darwen Tower, AFC Darwen and the J4 Skate Park.

Chairman of the board, Wayne Wild, commercial director at WEC Group, one of the town’s biggest employers, said: “An elite cricket academy would be absolutely fantastic for our town and for the chances of our sporting youngsters.

“The proposal has been put forward by the Aldridge Education Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) which has recently also successfully established a similar £2m facility at another of its academies in Brighton.

“This has been named as one of the top 100 cricket schools in the whole country.”

The plans could include a three-lane, full run-up, state-of-the-art indoor coaching, fitness and training centre with close links to Darwen Cricket Club.

It would be run by Aldridge Education Trust with the intention of working closely with Lancashire County Cricket Club as part of its plan to create a network of community cricket facilities in urban areas.

The project will also meet the aspirations set by the English and Wales Cricket Board in its five-year ‘Inspiring Generations’ plan designed to encourage more young people from state schools to play the game.

Subject to approval, the plans could then be developed as part of the board’s business case needed to secure money from the £25m Town Deal Fund.

Mr Wild added: “It’s still early days, but as a board we are working incredibly hard to make sure we have a really strong business case for Darwen.

“The full £25m isn’t guaranteed and so we need to put forward the best-possible investment plan to secure every penny we can.

“Proposals like these are really exciting for our town.

“Combined, these proposals have the potential to really put Darwen on the sporting map.”

The £25,000 has been made available due to additional community fundraising for the tower and money pledged by Darwen Town Council for the restoration.