Plans follow calls for new public space in the heart of Darwen

Published Tuesday 27 June 2017 at 13:53

An initial plan for a new public space in the ‘Heart of Darwen’ has been revealed following calls for an open area to hold events.

The plan, which has been published on the Council’s website and will also go out for wider consultation, is the result of feedback from residents that following proposals for the demolition of the three day market, called for a shared space that could be used for events and act as a focal point for the town.

It follows a nine day consultation launched in March 2015 at Darwen Aldridge Academy (DACA) with an open invite to the public and market traders as well as a consultation led by Darwen Town Centre Partnership that included a presence at Darwen Live and a second event at DACA in May.

In addition, 10,000 leaflets were distributed around the town and a social media campaign and website called Heart of Darwen was a launched, as a result of the consultation conducted by local student Liam Dargan.

More than 500 people gave their views on what they wanted to see and four key themes emerged; a multi-functional space to attract residents to the town centre, somewhere to hold events and pop-up markets, a place to build on the night time economy, and a design that reflected the heritage of the town.

The new plan aims to reflect this wish-list by offering an open flexible space that can accommodate anything from large markets to open air performances.

The design, which it is intended will open up views to key Darwen landmarks, is split into three zones; the upper section next to Railway Road looks down on the main public space and has seating and decorative planting to encourage passers-by to stop.

Zone B focuses on commerce and will attempt to reuse some of the former storage units under Railway Road for retail use, while the main area zone C offers a flexible public space with amphitheatre style seating and will provide the opportunity for anything from craft fairs or food markets to large scale events.

The area’s heritage especially its history of textile production it is suggested, could be reflected in the use of materials, planting schemes and the street furniture.

Once demolition of the market is completed in around early November the area will receive a temporary surface in order to enable events to take place in the lead up Christmas.

It is also planned that a programme of events will be put in place to encourage residents to start using the space which will be managed by the Council.

Executive member for Regeneration at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Councillor Phil Riley, said:

“I’m really excited about these plans I think the architects have worked very hard to try to reflect what people wanted to see in their town. It’s not easy trying to bring together the views of lots of different people but I think we’ve gone some way to imagine a space that’s both modern and also reflects the heritage of Darwen.  This is really the first draft and there are a number of details which could change however, this is the general direction of travel which reflects what people wanted to see and begins to unlock the potential of this space.”

To view the proposed plans on the Council website click here

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