THE go-ahead has been given for a £2.5 million transformation of a town centre, in the hope of creating a brighter shopper and visitor attraction.

This week, Rossendale Council’s Haslingden 2040 bid won the backing of the National Heritage Lottery Fund with work on a variety of improvements set to begin.

Funding will also be available for business owners and landlords to refurbish and repurpose buildings.

Rossendale Council leader Alyson Barnes, chair of the Haslingden town centre strategic partnership board, said: “The key to the success of the Haslingden 2040 bid was that it had the support of the whole community and it was developed with the backing of a number of different stakeholders.

“The project includes building restoration works to Upper Deardengate, the repurposing of 5-7 Deardengate, a new public realm by the ‘big lamp’ for public events and a micro grant events programme.

“The wider vision includes the restoration of buildings on Lower Deardengate, the development of Cockerill Square, introducing welcome corridors on Manchester Road and Blackburn Road which include tree planting and raised flower beds.”

The plans received cross-party support and Conservative leader Cllr Margaret Pendlebury said: “This is the future for Haslingden for generations to come, for everybody from 100-years-old to babies.

“It’s exactly what we need to start the programme off and I hope this funding is a catalyst that leads to improvements in the rest of Haslingden and the remaining town centre.

“Good things will start to happen and I would hope to see, as a council, that more money will now be made available and put into Haslingden, as it is needed; Haslingden has felt like the forgotten town.”

Worsley Cllr Adrian Lythgoe said: “It is fantastic news for Haslingden. The funding is brilliant and it will give us an opportunity to continue the process of enabling Haslingden to realise its potential; creating an outdoor space for events while also recognising the heritage of the town.”

The town's MP, Sara Britcliffe, said: “I am proud of the group and collaborative efforts that have shone through in the bid. This will be a major boost for Haslingden and I look forward to continuing to work together to make Haslingden a better place to live and work.”

Even though the bid was compiled during the pandemic, a website ensured residents were engaged, online questionnaires assisted public consultation and meetings went virtual.

Rossendale West County Cllr Samara Barnes said: “As the newly elected County Councillor and a local resident of Haslingden, I look forward to working with the team to make sure we get the Haslingden we deserve.”

Faith communities were also involved in creating the vision and Father Andrew Holmes, curate at St James Haslingden, and St Thomas Musbury, said: “I think this is an amazing opportunity for Haslingden. We really need a rejuvenation in the centre of the town.”

David Renwick, Director for the North of England at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Investing in heritage means investing in the community it belongs to, which is why we are proud to support Rossendale Council to ensure the regeneration of Haslingden’s historic Deardengate, thanks to National Lottery players.

“This will not only preserve this important heritage to be enjoyed by locals and visitors from further afield, but will also play a significant role in boosting the local economy and aiding the wider regeneration of Haslingden.”