The £32m Northlight complex is welcoming Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL) as the first centre to open at the former Brierfield Mill this autumn.
Funding organisations and partners who’ve made the new £1.75m centre possible saw behind the scenes this week before the official opening in October.
Sandra Booth, 72, from Colne, and Colin Roe, 81, from Barrowford, LAL’s first learners from Pendle who signed up to a course at Northlight, had the chance to meet the Principal Amanda Melton and Associate Principal Tracey Baron as they started their French Beginners course at the newly refurbished facility.
Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) provided a total of £1.4m to support the relocation of Lancashire Adult Learning’s (LAL) from Chorley to Northlight thanks to LEP’s £750,000 of Growth Deal Skills Capital and £650,000 from Lancashire County Council.
The LEP has also invested £4.2million of Growth Deal funding into the overall Northlight scheme.
And Lancashire County Council is providing a total of £2.15m for Northlight including improved access from the M65 and re-developing part of the canalside for leisure.
Leader of Pendle Council, Councillor Iqbal said: “Thanks to the massive support we’ve had it’s been full speed ahead since October 2016.
“I’m delighted this fantastic facility has found a new home in Pendle in the beautiful Victorian office buildings of our iconic mill. What a location!”
“The fast pace of development on our ambitious project proves it has a great future,” explained Councillor Iqbal, who also chairs Pendle Enterprise And Regeneration (PEARL).
“It’s fantastic to see Northlight taking shape to create a new learning, living, working, leisure and cultural destination for the North West.”
The new LAL Centre will support a staggering 22,000 adult learners in Lancashire across 120 venues in the county. An official VIP launch event will be held in October.
Amanda Melton, Principal of both Lancashire Adult Learning and Nelson and Colne College, said: “The facilities at Northlight are of the highest standard and I am extremely impressed with the transformation that has taken place here over recent months.
“I’m delighted that Lancashire Adult Learning is part of such an exciting project, one that will really enhance adult learning.
“Our base will now be at Brierfield, but our provision will remain the same – providing adults across the county with an opportunity to re-discover a love for learning in one of our many community venues across Lancashire.
“We have an extensive and exciting programme of courses designed to meet the needs of the local community.”
County Councillor Graham Gooch, Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Lancashire County Council, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the investment into the redevelopment of Northlight and improved access from the M65 will make it a prime site for the area.
“I am equally pleased that Lancashire Adult Learning will be the first centre to open as part of the complex, offering a wide range of courses and learning opportunities for the local community.
“As Lancashire Adult Learning is one of the UK’s largest adult education providers it is great for the people of Pendle to have this centre on their doorstep.”
Tim Webber, Managing Director of Barnfield and a PEARL board member said: “We’ve worked intensely and with great care to sensitively restore and refurbish this elegant building for a new purpose.”
Tim Webber announced the next new developments for Northlight at the preview as work continues on the rest of the site to transform the whole complex. These include a residential planning submission in for 52 apartments.
He added: “As Pendle developers with our HQ within sight of Northlight, it’s been a labour of love for us and we’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved so far.
“It’s full speed ahead with Burnley FC in the Community which opens fantastic facilities here in the spring and In-Situ opening their innovative garage site as an arts and culture hub.
Graham Cowley, Chair of the LEP Growth Deal Management Board said: “The £5million Growth Deal investment in the Northlight scheme reflects how the LEP supports projects which add real value to the county’s economy at both a local and regional level.
“Brierfield Mill is gradually being transformed into a thriving hub of education, leisure and residential services, which will benefit the whole of the local community, while the new LAL office will be able to deliver vital adult learning provision more effectively and efficiently across all of Lancashire.
“It’s a great example of how the Lancashire Growth Deal can help unlock investment and drive regeneration.
David Graham, Site Manager at Northlight for Barnfield described how his team has created the new modern and accessible LAL Centre whilst protecting some elegant period features.
He said: “Luckily for us the Victorians built it very robustly so there were no challenges to overcome!
“We’ve restored the curved oak staircase and the main feature window with its stunning view over the northlights of the weaving shed to the historic clock tower.
“We’ve kept parts of the vaulted ceiling intact, reconstructed curved windows and plaster work.”
“It’s been wonderful to see how delighted Amanda Melton and her team have been with their new centre!”
For anybody interested in joining LAL or finding out more about what we offer, please visit our website at www.lal.ac.uk and download the latest course guide.