Published Tuesday 4 October 2022 at 13:42
New plans have been revealed to build back Blackburn’s Blakey Moor Terrace – a gem in the town’s new Cultural Quarter – even better.
Contractors are on site working on the building – which dates back to the 1800s and is in a prominent location facing King George’s Hall.
They were hoping to fully restore it and create two new restaurant spaces as part of a wider £3m Townscape Heritage Project with Blackburn with Darwen Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
However, following storm damage at the beginning of the year and subsequent structural tests, one of the buildings has now been deemed to be beyond repair and new plans have been submitted to rebuild it with an improved design.
Councillor Quesir Mahmood, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Growth and Development, said:
Right from the start, we knew that this would be an incredibly difficult project as the building has been poorly re-modelled and modified several times since it was first built in the 1800s.
It was in a dilapidated state, but given its potential and heritage value, we’ve worked incredibly hard to secure the funding needed to develop it as part of Blackburn’s brand new Cultural Quarter and are excited about its future.
While it’s disappointing that we’ve had to alter course, when we’ve reflected, it’s provided us with an opportunity to build back something that is even better – a building that is fit for 21st Century use, but with a design that very much still celebrates its heritage.
The new artist impressions of what it could look like are really impressive and fitting for the Northgate Conservation Area.
The Council has worked with award-winning architects, Group Ginger to develop the new plans which preserve the historical quality of the row of terraces.
Now, instead of splitting the building into two, the changes will allow for it to be one large unit which better suits the current market.
There’ll also be brand new shop fronts, including an impressive frontage where the former Subway unit was, an improved area to the front of the building with increased outdoor seating and new access to the rear linking through to the new Reel Cinema.
Councillor Mahmood added:
As our towns recover from the pandemic, we know that a strong cultural offer will be more important than ever before and so this project is really important.
We’re already seeing momentum in that area with the new Sofra Turkish restaurant opening just last month and work has recently been completed to the new Shh! Bar building too – with that historical building looking back to its best.
Another four new restaurants are planned to open in the area too bringing a real variety of cuisine to that area of town.
We’re also looking to progress the first phases of our £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan which will see the largest town centre development of its kind in the North West in the area surrounding the former Thwaites Brewery site.
Nationally, we’re facing tough times economically, but we’re doing everything we can to have the right plans in place for our borough.
Blackburn-based Forrest Joinery and Construction Contracts Ltd are the lead contractor for the Blakey Moor Terrace project and have already removed much of one of the existing buildings since it was deemed unsafe.
It had been propped up with scaffolding in February following damage caused by Storm Gladys which quickly followed on the back of Storm Dudley, Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin.
All of the original features and materials that can be salvaged have been and will be used in the re-building.
The Council’s Planning Team and the National Lottery Heritage Fund have been closely involved in the redesign to make sure the changes are acceptable and sensitive to the heritage of the site.
While the additional works will inevitably take longer, it’s hoped that the restoration works will still be completed in 2023.
About the Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Project
The Blakey Moor Townscape Heritage Project is an ambitious £3 million project to transform the historic heart of Blackburn. A joint investment by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Project is focused on the Northgate Conservation Area in Blackburn town centre and has already restored properties on Northgate and Lord Street West and improved the public realm around King George’s Hall.
The Project also provides local people with opportunities for training in traditional building skills and has delivered a series of complementary events and activities over the last few years.
About The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.