Burnley has produced its Town Centre Strategy for 2016-2021
Burnley Town Centre plays an important role in the economy serving an immediate population of 110,000 in Burnley and its immediate surrounds and 270,000 people within a 15 minute drive time. Alongside Blackburn, the town is a sub-regional centre for retail, business, civic and cultural activities in Pennine Lancashire
However, like all town centres throughout the Country, changes in shopping habits, retailing and leisure patterns mean that it needs to adapt and change. The retail sector was hit hard firstly by the economic down turn at the turn of the decade and more recently by growth in on-line retailing and changing consumer habits. Indications are that retail growth will remain muted but there will be strong growth in the leisure sector. Town Centres needs to respond to these national trends and an increasingly demanding consumer.
Town Centres of the future must contain a good mix of high quality retail and leisure, providing consumers with a quality experience that is about more than just shopping.
“The new high streets won’t just be about selling goods. The mix
will include housing, offices, sport, schools, or other social, commercial and cultural enterprises. They should become places where we go to engage with other people, where shopping is just one small part of a rich mix of activities”. Portas Review 2011
Town Centres have always provided a wider social and economic role. Burnley town centre is currently supporting approximately 5,000 jobs (Nov 2015). It has a strong presence of professional and public services and there is approximately 400,000 sq ft of office space in the town centre. Just like retail, the needs of office users are changing with digitisation, flexible working and imposed efficiencies’ leading to reduced demand for office accommodation.
The success of Burnley Town Centre is central to the wider economic strategy for the borough. The town centre needs to carve out a high quality retail offer and combine this with a wider leisure, cultural and social experience during the day and into the evening that will underpin Burnley as an attractive place to live and work.
Burnley Town Centre has some strong assets in its fine Victorian architecture and a town centre retail offer which has fared relatively well in difficult circumstances. But we shouldn’t be complacent. Burnley has not benefitted from the levels of investment that other towns and cities in the region have seen. The last significant town centre retail development was completed in 2014, with a refurbishment of the Market Square and reconfiguration of 7 smaller units in Charter Walk Shopping Centre to create 3 larger premises, providing a current total of 26,623sq ft of retail space. The last major leisure development was St Peter’s Health and Leisure Centre, a joint project between Burnley Borough Council and the NHS, completed in 2006 at a cost of £29m.
This strategy sets out a clear direction for the town and provides a framework for planning, development and town centre management activities. Burnley Borough Council alone cannot deliver this strategy and we will work with key partners, including Lancashire County Council, property owners, retailers and businesses to deliver a town centre that is fit for the future.