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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Mogul Wilson's 'playground' move
Anthony Wilson
Tony Wilson was an influential figure in the "Madchester" scene
Music mogul Tony Wilson has come up with a plan to turn part of Lancashire into a "Pennine Playground".

Mr Wilson, famous for setting up Manchester's Hacienda nightclub, has been commissioned with partner Yvette Livesey to improve the county's image.

Regeneration company Elevate East Lancashire wants to boost tourism and business activity in the region.

Mr Wilson said his idea for an extreme sports "playground" would capitalise on Lancashire's spectacular countryside.

His plans include a football theme park, turning a textile mill into a fashionable shopping complex and design school, and redeveloping the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

Leeds-Liverpool Canal, in Burnley - courtesy of Elevate East Lancashire
Mr Wilson wants to redevelop the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool canal

The project is being funded by The North West Development Agency (NWDA), Elevate and the five local authorities of east Lancashire.

"We wanted to stimulate thought and provoke discussion on how people in east Lancashire see themselves and what other people think of the area," he said.

His research has formed a wish list of ideas to transform the region's image.

"While Manchester was the heart and Liverpool the lungs of the Industrial Revolution, Lancashire was the muscle and should not be embarrassed to remember thus how it helped create the modern world."

Mr Wilson, a former regional television presenter, founded the seminal Factory Records label in the late 1970s.

It released well-received records by bands such as Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays, and made Mr Wilson the figurehead of the Manchester music scene.

He has attracted plaudits and brickbats in equal measure throughout his career, and in 2002 his life was made into a film, 24 Hour Party People, in which he was played by fellow Mancunian Steve Coogan.

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