THREE East Lancashire towns are to receive £50,000 each to create sports pitches.

Among those receiving the Protecting Playing Field grant, which is part of the Places People Play scheme, are the Whalley QE2 Trust, Belvedere and Calder Vale Sports Club in Burnley and Hapton Parish Council, which is planning to use the money to regenerate the recreation ground for sporting use.

At the moment, residents there have to make a 20-mile round-trip to get to their nearest sports pitch.

Tim Birbeck, from Hapton Parish Council, said: “This is superb news and will enable us to gain an outstanding pitch.

“The investment received will breathe new life into the area for years to come.”

The Protecting Playing Fields fund is part of the £150 million Places People Play legacy programme which will protect pitches from development for at least 25 years.

Overall, 163 projects have benefited from £7.8million of investment, which has been awarded in three rounds. More than 500 pitches and nearly 1,900 acres have been protected and improved, with more playing fields set to benefit from a further £4 million of funding over the two remaining phases.

The next round is due to open for bids before Christmas.

Sport England’s chairman Richard Lewis said: “Thanks to these investments, generations of young people in the North West can look forward to playing sport on great sports pitches.

“Playing fields are vital sporting resources for communities, so it’s vital we provide both investment and protection.”