Three Lancashire high streets to be handed £500k cash boost to 'breathe life into towns'

Blackpool's hidden street art - plenty of secret masterpieces in an alleyway off Abingdon Street.
Blackpool's Abingdon Street will benefit from the cash -Credit:James Maloney/Lancs Live

Three high streets have been awarded a share of £1.5m to "breathe new life and greenery" into towns across Lancashire it has been announced this morning (May 16).

The Levelling Up funding is being made available to 10 areas across England and each will receive £500,000. Councils across England will soon also benefit from new rental auction powers to revive empty shops that blight high streets

According to the government, attractive changes will "entice residents and visitors back to shops" - making high streets more attractive places for people to visit and spend their time - whether that’s to relax and socialise, visit the shops and cafes, or take up new jobs in the area.

In Lancashire, cash will be allocated to streets in Blackpool, Blackburn and Great Harwood

The Minister for Levelling Up Jacob Young said: “High streets are the beating heart of our communities and we’re determined to keep them alive and flourishing through our levelling up support.

“Coupled with the new powers we’re giving to councils to rent out persistently empty spaces, our High Street Accelerators programme will make our towns more welcoming and pleasant places for people to enjoy.”


In Blackburn town centre, King William Street will be remodelled into a more flexible and open space for the community to spend time in and accommodate events. The high street layout will be simplified with improved street furniture, a new play feature and new planting and trees added to key areas such as the three main entrances to the shopping centre and existing pavement cafes. These changes will improve the quality and biodiversity of the environment and create a more welcoming high street that entices visitors throughout the daytime and evening. A volunteer programme will be set up to help maintain the new spaces.

Abingdon Street and Queen Street in Blackpool will be enhanced to attract more daytime visitors. These high streets which have a thriving night-time economy will see new green spaces created around Central Library and the Grundy Art Gallery, complementing these buildings. It is hoped these building will also be redeveloped as part of the wider regeneration plans for the area. New flowers and plants will also be added along the high streets, creating a better-quality environment for daytime visitors and increasing footfall to the businesses in that area.

Queen Street in Great Harwood, Lancashire.
Queen Street in Great Harwood, Lancashire. -Credit:James Maloney/Lancs Live

Improvements to Queen Street, Blackburn Road and Church Street in Great Harwood will create new and aesthetically pleasing areas for residents to enjoy and socialise while shopping. Uninviting areas with dilapidated plants and street furniture will be replaced with new seating areas and fresh planting and trees, including the front of a community building.

Lauren Zawadzki, Chair of Blackburn’s King William Street High Street Accelerator Partnership said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured the full £500,000 of new green space funding for King William Street. We are determined to improve that whole area, including through greening and cleaning – creating a space that residents and visitors can enjoy and businesses can thrive in.

“With the changing landscape of the high street, we want to do something that is truly innovative and transformational, but also something that is sustainable and will have a long-term impact for that whole area.

“To ensure we get it right, we’ll be appointing a skilled design team who can take our ideas and engage with interested parties to see how the space can better work, including for activities and events.

“We can’t wait to share the plans and see the difference they can help make. Blackburn is just one of only 10 towns to benefit from the High Street Accelerator funding and we’re already off to a really good start – working together to make a real difference.”

Tim Allan, Chair of Blackpool’s Abingdon Street and Queen Street High Street Accelerator partnership said: “I am delighted that we have been awarded £500,000 from the High Street Accelerators Pilot Programme Green Spaces Funding for our scheme on Abington Street and Queens Street.

“When we have engaged with the various communities in and around the area, we are consistently told that more green spaces are needed for those living, working and visiting the area.

“This money will help us provide much-wanted green spaces and additional planting and will have a significant impact. The ‘greening up’ of the area is part of a much bigger plan to reinvigorate this particular part of the town and I very much look forward to working with both the community and Blackpool Council to get this project off the ground.”

Along with the government’s wider levelling up interventions that total over £15 billion across the UK, these changes help speed up local regeneration, turning once-bustling town centres into vibrant places again. The changes will also help tackle the wide-ranging issues stemming from high street emptiness - from struggling businesses, to increased unemployment and anti-social behaviour.

Peter Holden, Chair of Great Harwood High Street Accelerator Panel said: “We’re thrilled with the news that our plans to green Great Harwood’s high streets have been approved. This is fantastic news for the town’s residents and local businesses. The Panel looks forward to working alongside Hyndburn Borough Council to get started on finalising the details and bring this project to life.

“Greener spaces will not only enhance the visual appeal of the high street, but we believe it will create a more vibrant and welcoming atmosphere for the community, helping local businesses to thrive. This project is for all of Great Harwood and we look forward to seeing it flourish.”

The £1.5 million funding comes from the government’s High Street Accelerators pilot programme launched in December last year, which is backed up to £7 million. The pilot is working with 10 local authorities in England to accelerate improvements to their high streets, while empowering residents and local businesses to partner with them on a regeneration plan that meets the needs of the community.