A postcard from Burscough, Lancashire
PUBLISHED: 22:13 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:58 20 February 2013
It was a regeneration scheme with a difference when they decided to spend almost £2 million to improve a West Lancashire village.Picture Editor John Cocks went to see the results
'The response has been very positive. As a politician, I knock on a lot of doors and this project has really lifted the whole town. It has given Burscough back its heart and the improvements accentuate the town's railway and canal heritage.'
His view is echoed by one of the town's well known businesswomen, Ruth Stokes, who runs Ruth's Hairdressers.'I've lived and worked in Lathom and Burscough all my life and love the place and the people,' says Ruth, who opened her business by the parish church in 1970.
'My family are famers and have been here for generations. There has been plenty of change and lots of new faces but the friendliness has never altered. 'We have wonderful road, rail and canal links all around us, good schools, a very active parish council and some of the finest countryside in West Lancashire with Martin Mere Wetlands Trust and Rufford Old Hall nearby.
'The excellent regeneration of the village centre reflects the proud and fascinating history of the area and though these are difficult times economically, I hope the business community is able to survive to build on what has been done so far.'
BURSCOUGH has been given back its heart. It may seem an extravagant claim but many people in the West Lancashire community agree with the sentiment.
This historic oasis in the middle of some of Lancashire's finest farmland has gone through a 1.8 million regeneration scheme. That might seem fairly dull in these days of countless 'improvement' projects but this sceme has been far from run-ofthe- mill.
In fact, it has been so well received that it has been mentioned in dispatches by two major town planning competitions.
The Royal Town Planning Institute and the Landscape Institute both commended Burscough and now it has been shortlisted for an award from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
'This is really pleasing and it's extremely unusual,'says Adrian Owens, the man overseeing regeneration for West Lancashire District Council.
'They are very demanding judges and schemes this small don't normally cross their radar. But there were unique features which captured the imagination of the judges.' The success was fired by using the imaginative BCA Landscapes company and they teamed up with creative partners Smiling Wolf to devise a scheme which used public art and open spaces to reflect the heritage of the town.
A new square was created, a striking clock was sited in the centre and there have been some even more unusual touches like illuminating the Grade II listed parish church to change colours reflecting the seasons.
As well as installing quality street furniture they also cleaned the railway and canal bridges. 'Local people were very much involved in deciding what was done,' says Coun Owens. The North West Development Association funding also resulted in improvements to Burscough Station. It had been vandalised and was unmanned. Now, it is fully
staffed and there is a caf, travel info and integrated transport so visitors can arrive by train and get a bus to Martin Mere.
'We also have a new Tesco in town and this arrangement resulted in funding being available for the Burscough Bridge station improvements,' adds Coun Owens. 'There had been fears that the new supermarket would kill off the small shops and it was a risk. But this hasn't happened - it has drawn more people into the town.