Imperial Mill Blackburn
Potential developments include Blackburn's Imperial Mill as an indoor and outdoor urban farm Publica image from feasibility study

Linear park idea floated for Pennine Lancs

Neil Tague

A feasibility study will examine potential cultural opportunities in areas lining the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in the east of the county.

Lancashire County Council, Canal & River Trust, arts commissioning programme The Super Slow Way and four local authorities – Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Burnley and Pendle – are partnering in the Pennine Lancashire Linear Park project.

Funded by Lancashire County Council, Arts Council England and Canal & River Trust, the study makes the case for unlocking the assets of the waterway and its surrounds. The Super Slow Way said that “the report is intended as a call to action to everyone who is interested in building a sustainable future for Pennine Lancashire”.

What is proposed is that the park will run from Eanam Wharf in Blackburn at the western end, to Barrowford Lock in Pendle.

The overall goal is to stimulate local economies by promoting a green movement corridor that support culture, leisure & tourism.

Potential ideas could include extreme sports facilities and watersports, new spaces for eating and drinking, arts and culture programmes in indoor and outdoor spaces, new live/work facilities for creative industries and an array of regenerative agriculture initiatives.

It is intended that the joint effort will bring together projects currently in development in repurposed and refurbished heritage structures and spaces, including Northlight Mill, Brierfield, UCLan’s new campus at Sandygate Square, Burnley as well as ambitions for other heritage sites such as coking ovens in Hyndburn and Imperial Mill in Blackburn.

The introduction to the report, by Super Slow Way director Laurie Peake and C&RT regional director Daniel Greenhalgh, said that “projects should be thought of as contributing to the creation of a ‘string of pearls’”. Publica and Buro Happold put together the report.

Physical improvements to the canal towpaths early in the process would be made, along with lighting, to further open up areas for active travel as a starting point.

Not unusually, New York’s High Line is cired as an influence, as it has been in Manchester’s plans for a different type of park, while clsoer to home, Urban Splash’s Port Loop in Birmingham is also referenced.

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