Local Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister’s plans to bring empty buildings back to life in the North. Nick Clegg wants to see abandoned buildings brought back to life in a renewed effort to tackle a chronic problem where vast sites in Northern cities become empty and unused for so long that whole areas can become blighted.
Instead of leaving properties empty, ranging from disused cinemas and post offices to old schools and market halls, the Deputy Prime Minister wants to help match-make entrepreneurs and community groups with local authorities and land-owners to find temporary uses for vacant buildings and land rather than let these sites go to waste.
The so-called ‘meanwhile use’ of buildings is under-used in the North and could provide invaluable space for a wide range of local people to set up a business, open a shop or put on an event. This process can quickly transform empty shells into dynamic hubs for business start-ups or centres for the arts and creative industries. It can have a knock on effect and revitalise city centres drawing in talent and investment from far and wide.
“These measures are welcome in the North West," said Gordon, "We have already seen massive improvements to derelict buildings such as the unused mills where the new UTC now occupies and other disused mills where companies such as Aldi have started building on. These plans would encourage more businesses to do the same in Burnley.
“I will continue to fight for Burnley in Westminster to ensure that the North West is not forgotten. We have come a long way as a town since 2010 and I am confident this will continue to grow with the right investments.”
Last week the Deputy Prime Minister visited Berlin to see a project called Betahaus, a successful collaborative working space in the heart of the creative district set up using derelict land and property. He wants to see how the UK can mirror its success in the North.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said:
"Leaving useful land in the North to languish is not only bad for business, it can hamper the success of an area in so many ways. Which is why I want to see empty buildings brought back to life and back in business.
"We need to understand what stands in the way of some of the most incredible space in the country being used, and make things more flexible so that we can fill these buildings with artists, start-ups, and other entrepreneurs to restore the buildings’ purpose and appeal.
"Through my Northern Futures initiative, I’m championing innovative ideas from people in the North to build a stronger economy and fairer society."
The North has nearly twice as many hectares of previously developed vacant land and buildings than the South, with 10,130ha in the North compared to just 5,580ha in the South.