Leader’s £1bn vision for Blackburn with Darwen

Published Tuesday 27 September 2022 at 14:58

The Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council has set out his £1bn vision for the future of the borough.

Speaking at his first business event since taking up his new role, Councillor Phil Riley said there’s ‘real momentum’ for the area as a place to live, invest and do business.

Attended by members of the Forum for the Built Environment (fbe), he showcased the borough’s ambitious strategic frameworks for the next decade with the opportunity to support 100,000 jobs in the area and establish Blackburn with Darwen one of the most important economic centres in the North.

And, following the Government’s emphasis on growth in the recent budget announcements, Councillor Riley believes the borough is incredibly well placed to achieve Local Investment Zone status.

Speaking after the event, he said:

We have a really strong story to tell here in Blackburn with Darwen around our growth agenda and I was really proud to front it at this event as the new Leader.

We’re progressing new strategic frameworks which will help unlock £1bn of new economic activity over the next decade – creating a wealth of opportunity for our residents and businesses.

We’ve worked incredibly hard to put the right plans in place to support and bolster the future of the borough in a bid to drive real, positive change and now we’re now at an exciting stage with these plans starting to come to fruition.

We are ambitious and are working towards Blackburn with Darwen being one of the most important economic centres in the region.

And, given the government’s emphasis on growth in last week’s mini-budget, we hope our plans and frameworks make us a prime candidate to secure the Government’s new Local Investment Zone status.

At the breakfast event, hosted by Blackburn College’s Scholars Restaurant and sponsored by The Hive, the Council’s Strategic Director for Place, Martin Kelly presented plans for a Blackburn Growth Axis, which closely links to the opportunities created as part of the Government’s new National Cyber Force which will be based at Samlesbury.

The Growth Axis includes the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan – the largest town centre development of its kind in the North West on a 15 acre site, including the former Thwaites Brewery site.

Wayne Wild – Chair of Darwen Town Deal – also gave a compelling overview of the £100m of investment planned there, leveraged through the £25m secured from Government.

It’ll see £26m invested in to the town centre, a new sports village with Olympic facilities, 600 jobs created and safeguarded, investment in world-class engineering and more.

He said:

As a local lad, it really is impressive when you see first-hand what’s planned for the borough and the benefits residents and businesses could reap.

I’m really proud to be helping lead the Darwen Town Deal with some incredible opportunities coming forward.

The business cases have now been agreed by Government and I’m looking forward to driving forward the proposals as we move to the next stage.

The Council has applied to the Government for £40m of Levelling Up funding that will help accelerate its planned investment schemes.

A new Local Plan – a blueprint for the future of the borough – has also been submitted to Government for review.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced the creation of the new ‘investment zones’ in the Government’s mini budget on Friday.

They are aimed at helping stimulate and accelerate economic growth through a streamlined planning process and a variety of tax incentives.

fbe Lancashire brings together the region’s property and construction professionals with the aim of promoting collaboration and excellence in the built environment, find out more by clicking here. 

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