£250m ‘Blueprint’ for Blackburn Town Centre

Published Thursday 16 December 2021 at 9:50

Blackburn with Darwen Council has published its £250m concept masterplan for Blackburn town centre, including the former Thwaites brewery site, as part of the Council’s draft Local Plan proposals, which will help shape development for the next 10 years and beyond.

The new framework, which has been led by BDP Architects, sets out proposals for bringing forward development sites, with the Council anticipating up to 500 town centre homes and 1,000 new jobs linked to the development of a new business district with a focus to support growth in low carbon, green and renewable industries.

The Council and its development partner Maple Grove, part of the Eric Wright Group, will be bringing forward further details in 2022 to assemble sites, work up planning applications and commence work on early development phases.

The concept masterplan will contribute to Blackburn’s economic recovery by providing a clear vision and the infrastructure required by people and businesses increasingly wanting to stay local post pandemic. The Council is actively engaging a number of potential strategic investors and businesses to explore opportunities for private sector investment and business expansion proposals.

The diverse and flexible nature of the schemes could deliver new education, business and training spaces, new town centre homes, retail and leisure opportunities, over the next decade which will enable the Council and its partners to accommodate the widespread socio-economic changes caused by COVID-19.  The concept masterplan includes:

  • providing purpose-built business and technology workspace for low carbon, green and renewable industries as part of a new town centre business district;
  • repurposed and refurbished St John’s Church to create high quality flexible workspace to meet new agile working trends post pandemic;
  • potential to relocate Morrisons to a new store located on the former Thwaites brewery site with the opportunity to retain and upgrade the existing car park for public use;
  • providing low carbon town centre living in close proximity to services, retail and workspace;
  • implementing 5G town centre roll-out creating a ‘super-connected town centre’;
  • refurbishing and re-opening the Fleece Inn to reflect the history of the locality; and
  • improving public open spaces and increasing cycle and pedestrian routes with new connectivity to our local canal infrastructure.

Further details will be published in January 2022 as part of the Council’s Local Plan update.

Cllr Phil Riley, the Council’s Executive Member for Growth & Development, said:

“This masterplan shows that the Council is forward-thinking with its place making agenda and I am pleased to confirm we are already speaking to a number of partners about delivering the different schemes outlined in this blueprint, which we are confident we will be able to provide further information in the New Year. Although our plans are ambitious we are confident that this is an achievable vision that brings forward development proposals for our strategic town centre sites that will be a game-changer in terms of transforming the centre of Blackburn.”

Cllr Riley added:

“It’s fair to say that town centres across the country continue to face tough economic challenges as a result of the pandemic. We are realistic that any plans prepared now may need to flex and change over the years ahead to reflect future trading conditions and market opportunities. The Council has a powerful role to play in driving the pace and scale of change that is required by providing strong leadership and actively engaging with potential new occupiers and investors.”

Simon Jones, Growth Director for the Council, said:

“The Council is excited to be helping to bring this major opportunity forward and deliver on one of our ‘Big 6’ initiatives from our emerging Local Plan and look forward to working closely with key stakeholders to deliver this exciting opportunity.”

Andrew Dewhurst, Development Director for Maple Grove said:

“We are pleased with the progress made since acquiring the site earlier this year and are working with the Council in developing a wider masterplan for the town centre building on our successful Cathedral Square development. ”

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