PLANS to transform Burnley into a university town are fast taking shape, as work on new student accommodation changes the town centre skyline.
A lattice of steelwork is being created next to Sandygate Square which will provide the foundation for a £9million 136-bed building with car parking to provide high-quality student accommodation.
On the ground floor there will be units available for shops, cafes or offices.
It is part of the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) ambitions to expand student numbers in Burnley from 400 to 4,000 by 2025.
The plans compliment recent investment by UCLan at nearby Victoria Mill, including state-of-the-art medical teaching facilities.
The building is due to be completed by late summer 2020 ready for its first student intake.
Council leader Charlie Briggs said: “It’s exciting to see the steelwork going up and the new accommodation taking shape.
“It will help support UCLan’s ambitious expansion plans for Burnley and attract more students to our town which will have wider benefits for our local economy.
"You only have to look at other places with thriving universities to see the economic and social benefits that brings and we want Burnley to see those benefits too.”
Plans of how the student accommodation complex may look were released by the council at the start of the year, when planning permission for the site was first sought.
To make way for the building, the former Neptune pub, which has been vacant for years, had to be knocked down.
Dr Ebrahim Adia, Provost at UCLan Burnley, said: “This purpose-built student accommodation on the banks of the canal, adjacent to the university’s Victoria Mill, is key to fulfilling our exciting plans to deliver an outstanding university experience in Burnley.
“Watching the new accommodation take shape sends out a clear message of UCLan’s commitment to attracting a new generation of students to the town as well as boosting economic and social growth in the area.”
The accommodation is being developed in partnership by the council, UCLan and Barnfield Investment Properties.
Burnley Council will receive an income from rent and UCLan will run the facility on the council’s behalf.