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Connecting Padiham and Burnley with a network of greenways

Sustrans’ work in Padiham to convert an old railway line into an attractive greenway has helped to revitalise a local community. The project has not only created a high quality walking and cycling route but has given residents a social space that has become well used and loved in its own right.

The challenge

The decline of traditional industries in Padiham and Burnley led to high levels of unemployment and social deprivation.

When the power station at Padiham closed in 1993 the railway line running between Burnley and Padiham was abandoned. It became an eyesore suffering from fly tipping, litter, and petty vandalism.

After the Burnley riots in 2001, it was recognised that there was a lack of opportunities for the diverse communities in the area to meet and integrate.

The solution

The council consulted on possible uses for the derelict railway corridor. Sustrans worked with partners to transform it into a traffic-free greenway and linear park. National Cycle Network Route 658 connects Burnley, Padiham and the surrounding villages together, with links into the town centres, employment areas and schools. The route was designed to be a social space with a village green atmosphere.

An extended community outreach program developed and delivered by Mid Pennine Arts, engaged local residents and helped to improve social integration.

The Sustrans project has been a huge success. My pupils use the Greenway to get to school, they use it during school and after school. The children were involved in the development right from the beginning, from planning, tree planting, bulb planting and the route artwork.

- Mark Dixon, Head teacher at Padiham Green Primary School

The difference we made

The project has created an accessible and attractive walking and cycling route and has become a well used and inspiring living space.

Children and residents feel a real sense of pride in the route, describing it as the first positive thing to happen to Padiham in a long time. The linear park has given local people a community space where they can relax, get some exercise and meet their neighbours.

It’s been so successful that in 2011 it won a European Greenways Award for Social Integration.