Unlocking the potential of the Leeds & Liverpool canal in Pennine Lancashire: Feasibility Study launched

21st June 2021

Proposed Pennine Lancashire Linear Park to provide opportunities for people to live, play and be inspired along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Lancashire County Council, Canal & River Trust, The Super Slow Way and the four local authorities in the east of the county that line the banks of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal have today (21 June 2021) unveiled a study to test the feasibility of transforming this stretch of the canal corridor into the Pennine Lancashire Linear Park.

It was the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the original ‘super highway’ of the Industrial Revolution, that transformed Pennine Lancashire. Today, the plan is to reveal and repurpose this great 19th century infrastructure, harnessing the same pioneering energy to create new cultural spaces and potential in the area.

Funded by Lancashire County Council, Arts Council England and Canal & River Trust, the study makes the case for unlocking the assets of this long swathe of blue and green bio-diversity, in order to create multiple opportunities for people to live, play and be inspired and productive; to learn new skills and build a new, greener future for themselves and their families. The report is intended as a call to action to everyone who is interested in building a sustainable future for Pennine Lancashire.

East Lancashire has suffered disproportionately during the pandemic and its economy is predicted to be among the 10 most heavily impacted in the UK. The area’s South Asian communities, which comprise a high proportion of the canal corridor’s population, have been particularly affected. Against this backdrop, and building upon Pennine Lancashire’s assets and parallel regional initiatives, the project seeks to act as a catalyst to unlock the investment required to propel urgent change and to realise the social, environmental and economic potential of the canal corridor.

The canal provides the backbone of a new, linear park that showcases this rich post-industrial, semi-rural landscape to offer a contemporary leisure and living experience – a visitor destination, with extreme sports facilities and water sport opportunities, great new spaces for eating and drinking, exciting arts and culture programmes in indoor and outdoor spaces, new live/work facilities for the burgeoning creative industries and an array of regenerative agriculture initiatives.

The plan is to maintain the highest standards of design and landscape quality along its 20+ mile stretch, from Blackburn to Pendle, with a string of pearls in the array of exciting new leisure hubs currently in development, in repurposed and refurbished heritage structures and spaces, including Northlight Mill, Brierfield, UCLan’snew campus at Sandygate Square, Burnley as well as ambitions for other impressive heritage sites such as the Coke Ovens in Hyndburn and Imperial Mill in Blackburn.

Physical improvements to the canal towpaths early on would bring immediate benefits to the identity of the area, the quality of the public realm, improved pedestrian connectivity, lighting and sustainable modes of transport resulting in increased footfall, improved social inclusion and a safer environment. New social infrastructure, such as cultural, community and educational programmes, in parallel would strengthen communities and improve quality of life.

Read the full report here