Green light for ‘pioneering’ manufacturing and research centre in Darwen

Published Thursday 23 May 2024 at 19:42

Plans have been approved for a new manufacturing and research centre in Darwen – part of the impressive £100m Darwen Town Deal.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Planning and Highways Committee last night voted to approve the plans for the two-hectare site at Chapels.

Barnfield Blackburn Ltd – a joint venture between Barnfield Group and Blackburn with Darwen Council – submitted the application for the manufacturing research centre and 10 smaller industrial units – an opportunity to create what’s known as a sector cluster in that area.  

And discussions are progressing with Sheffield Universities’ AMRC to be the anchor tenant there – housing its first-of-its-kind Additive Manufacturing Accelerator.

Perspex International Ltd, a major employer in the town, is also developing plans to expand its neighbouring Chapels site with a proposed new £30m national manufacturing centre there – again, with support from the Town Deal.

Chair of the Darwen Town Deal Board, Wayne Wild said:

We worked incredibly hard to secure the full £25m through the Town Deal and then use that to unlock more than £100m of new funding for Darwen.

We want our plans for the town to be truly transformational, including creating opportunities around employment growth and business innovation too.

The AMRC facility could be the first of its kind for the country – pioneering additive and 3D printing technology and creating opportunities for local businesses to thrive in that sector.

Darwen has a long and proud industrial heritage – being a world-leader – and so we’re proud to be able to support plans for this new manufacturing and research centre and securing this planning permission is a fantastic step forward.

The proposed site plan, submitted as part of the planning application, shows how the land off Goose House Lane will be developed to house the new manufacturing research centre with the 10 smaller units being for B2 and B8 class use.

Tracy Clavell-Bate, Head of Development and Acquisition at Barnfield Group, said:

We’re really pleased to be bringing forward this development on the Chapels site.

This is a prime location for a manufacturing development, and we’re progressing our discussions with the AMRC to be the anchor tenant there.

It would be the first Additive Manufacturing Accelerator of its kind in the UK, bringing with it a whole host of opportunities for the town.  Having an AMRC in Darwen would be a huge coup.

The Darwen Town Deal is part of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s £1bn vision for the future.

Investment in the likes of the Town Deal and the Blackburn Growth Axis, anchored by the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan, have the opportunity to support 100,000 jobs in the borough – making it a key, regional economic centre.

The Council’s Leader and Deputy Chair of the Darwen Town Deal, Councillor Phil Riley said:

We’re an ambitious borough with ambitious plans for growth.

Our vision is driven by wanting to do better for our residents – we’re on a mission to create a more prosperous borough where no-one is left behind.

Schemes like this proposed manufacturing research centre unlock new possibilities for Darwen – creating new jobs and supporting existing businesses to grow and new ones to thrive.

There is a huge sense of momentum here and we’re working really hard to continue to build on that, these plans being yet another really good example of the results of strong partnership working and the confidence in Blackburn with Darwen as a place to invest and do business.

The Perspex International planning application is expected to be submitted in the coming months.

The £100m Darwen Town Deal vision centres around five key themes:

Town centre regeneration

Employment growth and business innovation

Destination Darwen – including trails to the iconic Jubilee Tower

Connected Darwen with ultrafast fibre broadband

– A brand new East Lancashire Sports Village

You can find out more at:

You can also read more about the planned investment across the borough at:


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