THE creation of 600 jobs at the Shuttleworth Mead business park in Padiham will be the latest coup for three East Lancs businessmen who have transformed the site of a former power station into a thriving haven for commerce.

When the power station closed eight years ago promises were made to replace the site with a job-creating project.

Danny Brierley spoke to those turning promises into reality...

OVERLOOKING the Padiham by-pass, less than two miles from the M65 motorway, the Shuttleworth Mead business park is proving a winner with large businesses looking for a new out of town location.

Since it was officially opened in March 2001, by the then Minister for Trade Richard Cabron, the site has proved to be a honey pot for companies looking to get out of bottle-necked town centres.

A combination of grants from the European Development Fund and the Treasury helped to get the £14million development off the ground.

Last year Fraser Eagle coaches moved the bulk of their operation to the park, after 83 years in Accrington.

Wallpaper manufacturers Graham and Brown have a 100,000sqft warehouse and distribution centre there and the Homeloan Company are preparing to move into a unit with 600 new staff.

Burnley-born Ken Ingham -- one of the men behind the project and a partner of the park's owners Ribble Estates -- takes a particular pride in what has been achieved.

"I think it is the nicest looking site in Burnley. The units have been snapped up before they are finished," he said.

"People want to move out of the older-type mills and get into somewhere they can access reasonably quickly and easily. If you are working in the middle of a town centre there are going to be traffic problems.

"We are adjacent to the motorway network and easily accessible."

Ribble Estate also owns a further 70 acres of land and, according to Ken, that could be developed just as quickly -- doubling the size of the current park.

He added: "We only have seven acres left from the original 70. That's being developed and we have another 70 on the other side of the River Calder. We could fill that land with probably the same amount of jobs again within three years."

So what has been the secret of their success?

"When people come to see us they get down-to-earth answers to down-to-earth questions. I have very good partners, people who know what they are doing."

The former Towneley High pupil, who was born in Thursby Road, Ken takes great satisfaction in what has been achieved in his home town.

"When Howard Rigg, Tim Webber and myself got together to develop this site we knew there would be demand for these units at a sensible price. I think we have been proved right." Technology companies have also been drawn to the park. Campus Ventures, a Manchester University project that helps to create new aerospace companies, was given a £495,000 Northwest Development Agency grant.

Burnley Council's economic development worked with Ribble Estates to launch the venture.

Head of the unit, Hugh Simpson, said: "We are delighted with Shuttleworth Mead. It is one of the fastest-developed sites in the country.

"While some people knock it, in the sense that some of the companies have only moved a relatively short distance, it is still an achievement.

"It means that those companies who have only moved a short distance now have modern premises that will allow them to reduce their overheads, expand and be more competitive. And we have got some new companies in there from outside the area."

When the business park was being developed one of the council's main concerns was to see jobs created for Burnley and Padiham's most deprived wards.

And according to Hugh that has happened. He added: "We wanted to make sure that as many of the jobs as possible went to our deprived areas and quite a lot have."

With Homeloan Management announcing their intention for further expansion in East Lancashire, the empty land owned by Ribble Estates at Shuttleworth Mead could be vital for further business growth.