Levelling Up Boost for Pendle People

Published on: March 7th 2023

Pendle Leisure Trust’s newly conceived Heritage Quarter is about to become a reality thanks to funding from round one of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

A total of £3,487,000 has been awarded to the Heritage Quarter concept which is made up of three theatres in the market town of Colne – The Muni Theatre, Pendle Hippodrome and the Little Theatre..

All three theatres are situated near one another within the town and offer a completely different experience for the customer, hence the idea to create Colne’s Heritage Quarter.

The impact of the Levelling Up funding will result in new and upgraded cultural facilities within the heart of Colne for the local community, residents and visitors, allowing the three individual venues to offer an enhanced programme of events and activities.

The Muni Theatre has been allocated £1,563,300 for a major refurbishment of all of the theatre, including new roofing and windows, along with new heating and lighting to improve energy efficiency that will deliver reduced carbon emissions.

Provisionally, work is due to start in the middle of May, when the theatre will close – and then re-open in January 2024 for the annual pantomime.

Pendle Hippodrome received £1,661,100, which will enable the refurbishment and alterations to the ground floor and first floor of the former historic Derby Arms public house – situated next door to the theatre and now owned by the theatre – the installation of passenger lifts and the redevelopment of the existing theatre’s foyer, box office and toilet areas. 

Contractors will start on the alterations at the beginning of April, with completion due in the middle of June 2024. During the renovations, the theatre will only be closed for a minimal number of days.

Levelling Up funds of £262,500 will enable Colne Dramatic Society to future-proof The Little Theatre. The project will incorporate a single-storey extension, incorporating much-needed wheelchair access and facilities, along with a modern foyer, additional toilets, a green room and a kitchen/bar. 

Work will hopefully start in the next couple of months and be completed by late summer/early autumn 2023. 

Alison Goode, Chief Executive of Pendle Leisure Trust, who is leading the Heritage Quarter theatres project, said: “This is brilliant news and a lifeline for the long-term sustainability of these three important cultural venues. The investment will help Pendle’s community to engage far more in arts, culture and heritage for a better quality of life.”

Councillor Nadeem Ahmed, Leader of Pendle Borough Council, added: “Colne is a great town which is renowned for culture, entertainment and for its independent shops and bars.

“This major investment will really give the town a boost and attract even more people to Pendle.”

The three theatres – which have suffered from chronic underinvestment over a number of years, therefore putting them at risk – are an integral part of Colne’s wider cultural offer, which also includes other small live music venues, restaurants, bars and cafes and makes the town what it is – a destination for culture and leisure activity.

A further £3,056,720 of Levelling Up funding has been awarded to Colne Market Hall, which will get a makeover, creating improved space for businesses and housing for town centre living.