THE government has given a £3.6million grant towards a flagship East Lancashire leisure project.

The cash for Burnley’s Pioneer Place development is part of a £269 million investment in 26 North West ‘shovel ready’ job-creating schemes.

The £26m project will see a new Reel multi-screen cinema, seven food units and two shops, plus a 125-space car park on the site off Curzon Street near the town’s Knowledge Quarter.

The announcement by local government secretary Robert Jenrick has been welcomed by Burnley Council’s economic development boss Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, the town’s Conservative MP Antony Higginbotham and the borough’s Labour opposition leader Cllr Mark Townsend.

In January the first £18m phase of the scheme was given planning permission.

Before coronavirus, council bosses expressed the hope big national names such as Nando’s would take space in the development.

Cllr Birtwistle said “We are very pleased that the Pioneer Place scheme has been shortlisted by the government to receive support from the Getting Building Fund.

“The funding will make the first phase of the scheme, including a cinema and five restaurant units, more viable, with scope for future phases if it is successful.

“However, there is still a long way to go and the council now has to work with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and our development partner Maple Grove Developments to finalise the full business case in line with the LEP's audit and scrutiny arrangements.”

Cllr Mark Townsend, leader of the council’s opposition Labour group, said: “I am delighted that the government has seen fit to invest in this scheme.

“I hope that now the council will get their act together and get some shovels in the ground quickly. They need to start speeding up work on this flagship project.”

Mr Higginbotham said: “I’m delighted the government has recognised the potential our town has and provided such a substantial amount of additional funding.

“This scheme will benefit the whole borough, creating a place where businesses want to locate, and people want to visit.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the council move the scheme forward and get shovels in the ground so we can get much needed regeneration to the town centre.”

Mr Jenrick said: “This government is determined to level up all parts of the country and this funding will give a much-needed boost to our economic recovery.”