Former mill towns in the east Lancashire region could become hotspots for the fashion industry, according to a report due to be published in the next few weeks

The study, by Manchester-based entrepreneur Tony Wilson, has been drawn up for the Elevate East Lancashire housing market renewal pathfinder as a brainstorming exercise in how to reinvigorate the area.

Wilson’s firm Livesey/Wilson Ideas Management will suggest a “fashion tower” that would attract tourism and industry to the area. This could be in a town such as Blackburn, Burnley or Accrington.

Wilson is understood to have taken his cue from the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, one of the Irish capital’s main tourist attractions.

Kathleen Reagan Houghton, head of information at Elevate East Lancashire, said: “We want to use heritage without being just another heritage museum. When cotton was mass-produced it revolutionised fashion. We’d like to look ahead to use these creative industries to enhance regeneration.”

Houghton added that the ideas would be shown to local authorities to gauge whether there was interest, and feasibility studies would be drawn up. Other ideas understood to be in the Livesey-Wilson report include proposals for a university and improved rail links.

  • Architect John Thompson and Partners is working with Elevate East Lancashire to improve housing stock. One plan under consideration is to thin out terraced housing by removing entire rows.

The issue of widespread demolition in the North has been on the political agenda since the government published its business plan for the Northern Way, which suggested that up to 400,000 houses be pulled down.