New manufacturing and research centre in Darwen could be ‘huge coup’

Published 20th Sep 2023

Plans have been revealed for a new manufacturing and research centre in Darwen – supported by the £100m Town Deal.

Barnfield Blackburn Ltd – a joint venture between the Barnfield Group and Blackburn with Darwen Council – has submitted a new planning application for a two hectare site at Chapels.

The proposals, led by DAY Architectural Ltd, boast a new manufacturing research centre along with eight smaller industrial units, which will create the opportunity to support a sector cluster.

And, initial discussions are well advanced 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:

Our vision has always been that we would use the £25m of Government Town Deal funding – worth £100m with Council and private investment – as a catalyst to kick-start the transformation of the town.

High on our agenda is employment growth and business innovation – using the funding to help safeguard and create new jobs and opportunities in the town through investing in sites to prepare them for development.

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 this application is a fantastic step forward.

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

Subject to the plans being approved, Barnfield Construction could start work there in early 2024.

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

We’re really pleased to be able to bring forward these strong proposals for the Chapels site.

This is a prime location for a manufacturing development like this and we are already engaging in initial discussions with the AMRC to be the anchor tenant there, should the plans be approved.

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 are an ambitious borough with ambitious plans for growth.

Our vision is driven by wanting to do better for our residents – creating 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.

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 planning application can be viewed in full by clicking this link.

The Perspex International planning application is expected to be submitted later in the year.

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

Find out more at:

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