Growth Programme drives improvements in Blackburn with Darwen

Published Wednesday 2 August 2023 at 17:17

An ongoing programme of economic growth activity in Blackburn with Darwen is at the heart of the Council’s plans for every resident to achieve a good quality of life, by boosting the borough’s prosperity.

Executive Councillors will be asked to sign off the 2023/24 Growth Programme for Blackburn with Darwen at their meeting on Thursday 10 August.

The programme is a document that sets out planned development projects and initiatives that will be implemented over the short, medium and longer term.

Coun Quesir Mahmood, Deputy Leader of the Council who is also Executive Member for Growth & Development, said:

Achieving a more prosperous borough is absolutely key to building a stronger local economy with opportunities for people to get on in life and live the best lives they can.

This is the bigger picture for us – being in the strongest possible position to offer employment and training opportunities and quality housing for all Blackburn with Darwen residents, leading to an improved quality of life.

Economic growth across the borough can help to alleviate some of the structural inequalities in Blackburn with Darwen, as well as providing money to invest in vital public services.

Underpinned by our characteristic ‘can-do’ attitude, we are already delivering impressive projects through our Growth Strategy. The Growth Programme 2023/24 will build on our success over the last few years, supporting the creation of jobs, housing and the delivery of much needed new infrastructure, including expanding schools, improving our highways network and increasing our health facilities.


Some of the highlights in the Growth Programme 2023/34 include:

Town Centres

  • Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan – a unique opportunity to boost the vitality of Blackburn town centre
  • Darwen Town Deal – a project which is now picking up pace with the £26m investment for Darwen town centre, including upgrades to the market hall and Darwen Library Theatre.


Commercial developments

Among the development at key employment sites being progressed in the next few years are:

  • New business units at Carl Fogarty Way and Issa Way in Blackburn
  • A new manufacturing facility for Pets Choice at Whitebirk, Blackburn
  • New commercial sites being developed as part of the Darwen Town Deal at Chapels Park South, Darwen
  • Redevelopment of Imperial Mill in Blackburn for cultural opportunities.



  • The North East Blackburn Strategic Housing Site – a new neighbourhood on the edge of town
  • Since 2015/16 there have been over 2,750 new homes built across Blackburn with Darwen, with around 25% of those new homes being affordable, which is above our 20% target; Plus 51% of the new homes completed to date have been constructed on brownfield sites, land which is currently disused
  • Building on our work bringing empty homes back into use – the number of empty properties brought back into use across the borough has increased from 167 in 2016/17 to 860 in 2022/23.


And underpinning all of this is the Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which aims to put in place firm plans for roads, schools and health facilities to support planned growth through housing and employment.

Coun Quesir Mahmood added:

Collaboration is key to our growth plans, and we have formed two joint venture partnerships to accelerate progress.

We are working in partnership with Barnfield to develop industrial units and new homes at Milking Lane, Lower Darwen, and with Maple Grove on the £250m masterplan for Blackburn town centre, which includes the relocation of Morrisons supermarket to the former Thwaites site and the re-development of brownfield land for a new employment campus together with town centre living and a refurbished multi-storey car park including 100 EV charging points.

All the Council’s growth activity is being carefully balanced against the Council’s Climate Emergency Action Plan targets, with the ambition to become a carbon neutral Council by 2030.

This news release relates to item no 8.3 on the agenda for the Executive Board meeting on Thursday 10 August 2023.  


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