Plans for new £60m Skills and Cyber Campus in Blackburn revealed

Published 28th Jun 2024

New plans have been revealed for a £60m Skills and Cyber Campus of national significance in Blackburn.

A planning application submitted by Maple Grove Blackburn – a joint venture between Maple Grove Developments and Blackburn with Darwen Council – is seeking planning permission for the first phase of the works, comprising two new contemporary buildings with landscaping and public realm.

The development has been ear-marked for the former Blackburn Market site in Brown Street and is part of the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan – a blueprint for town centre development developed by BDP to transform the area, including the land where the Thwaites brewery historically stood.

The application seeks full permission for the first building together with the public realm and new urban greenspace.

Outline planning permission is also being sought for the second building – both being very similar in design to those within the neighbouring Cathedral Quarter development.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has successfully secured £20m of Levelling Up funding towards the scheme and is in talks with UCLAN for its training company, Training 2000 (T2000) to expand and re-locate to the development and occupy the first building.

Growth Director at Blackburn with Darwen Council, Simon Jones, said:

This is an opportunity for us to bring thousands of learners into our town centre every single year to enjoy state-of-the-art facilities.

We’re already in talks with UCLAN to re-locate and expand their Training 2000 offer here, and what an opportunity this is.

The masterplan is part of the Council’s £1bn vision for the future – delivering on its commitment to create a more prosperous borough where no-one is left behind.

It’s the anchor of a wider Blackburn Growth Axis with the ability to support 100,000 jobs across the borough – positioning it as an important, regional economic centre.

Nick Hague, Project Director for Maple Grove Developments, said:

We’ve been working in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Council for a number of years and are delighted to be supporting them in bringing forward this hugely ambitious and exciting project.

The two new buildings, along with the fantastic public realm and landscaping, will transform this key gateway site into a world-class education and commercial quarter, supporting the wider regeneration plans for the town centre.

The buildings will provide flexibility to the occupants, allowing them to adapt over time, responding to the ever changing business and academic world we live in.

These are indeed exciting times in Blackburn.

David Taylor, Chairman of Training 2000, added:

The Skills and Cyber Campus represents a great opportunity for both UCLAN and T2000 to expand their offer in East Lancashire.

Although discussions are at an early stage, they represent an exciting opportunity for Training 2000.

Also part of the Blackburn Business Innovation District – where the new development will be based – is St John’s Church with planning permission secured to transform the fire-hit building into an Innovation Hub with works proposed to commence in 2025.

Linked to the neighbouring The Making Rooms and Blackburn College’s already strong cyber capabilities, it’s part of the Council’s drive to unlock the opportunities that the re-location of the National Cyber HQ to neighbouring Samlesbury will bring.

The projects also link closely to the Salmesbury Enterprise Zone and the AMRC Innovation Centre – again, with a vision to grow the supply chain in the digital and cyber sector in Blackburn with Darwen.

You can read more about the Council’s £1bn vision for the future and investment plans at:

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