HISTORIC mills and canal towpaths will be preserved for posterity by the acceptance of a near £2million lottery grant.

Blueprints for the Weavers' Triangle, being undertaken by a number of developers, aims to transform the former industrial mecca into a retail and residential heartland for the town.

But in order to do that funding was needed to preserve the historic fabric of the area, including open spaces between the mills and the towpaths and route of the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

This week Burnley's deputy council leader Coun Margaret Lishman has signed off the local authority's acceptance of a £1.95million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, which will release a £3million cash injection from the Northwest Development Agency.

The investment represents the bulk of the funding for the revamp, although it is hoped that a number of other minor grants can also be secured.

The announcement is the latest boost for the Weavers' Triangle area, bounded by Trafalgar Street, Sandygate and Westgate, after months of seeming inactivity.

One of the main developers - Rossendale-based Hurstwood - submitted a revised planning application for more housing and a reduction in office space for mills across the sprawling site just before Christmas.

The move has been regarded as a shot in the arm for the triangle after Hurstwood put their holdings there up for sale last year.

And another developer, St Modwen's, has already begun redeveloping the site of the former Lambert Howarth mill, off Finsley Gate. This site will eventually be home to apartments, canalside homes and industrial units.

Burnley council leader Coun Gordon Birtwistle said: "Renewal starts with confidence and that confidence is returning to bring the development of Burnley's sleeping giant back on track.

"Weavers' shouts potential - great motorway links, canal-side locations and history in every brick.

"This council is determined to make the most of any NWDA and HLF funding,determined to make the most of investment by our private sector partners, and determined to breathe life back into the emblem of Burnley's industrial past - the Weavers' Triangle."

Hugh Simpson, head of regeneration and economic development at Burnley Council said: "Heritage Lottery Funding will be used to ensure the wonderful historical character of Burnley is preserved."

Ian Whittaker, the NWDA's policy and partnership manager, added: "It is great news that Burnley Borough Council has accepted this grant offer from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"The NWDA is working closely with the council on the delivery of the Weavers' Triangle Master Plan.

"This decision puts another piece in the jigsaw of a funding package to help realise the master plan."