Seeing double: £4m plans revealed for youth facilities in Blackburn with Darwen

Published 03rd Oct 2023

Darwen Youth Centre could almost double in size as part of impressive £3m plans revealed today.

New images included in a planning application submitted by Blackburn with Darwen Council show how a new first floor could be added to the Knott Street building.

This would pave the way for a wellbeing area, creative workshop space, recording and DJ studio, gaming zone and multi-use spaces.

Plus, the outdoor sports facilities there could be significantly upgraded too.

And, a second planning application has also been submitted by the Council for Audley and Queen’s Park Children’s Centre with a proposed £1m transformation of the facilities there to benefit young people living in the area.

The applications come after more than £8m was secured through the Government’s Youth Investment Fund for four projects across Blackburn with Darwen.

It was the most amount of money awarded to any one single place in the country in the August round of announcements.

Councillor Julie Gunn, the Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, said:

This is a really exciting next step for our plans to improve our facilities for young people living across Blackburn with Darwen after successfully securing the Youth Investment Fund grants back in August.

We were ecstatic to be awarded more than £8m of new funding – supporting our key Council mission to provide our youngsters with the very best opportunities to fulfil their potential.

One of the real strengths of our bids was that we had projects that could be brought forward quickly alongside really strong partnership working, something Blackburn with Darwen is renowned for and I was proud to see in action.

All four projects will be truly transformational and we can’t wait to see the difference they will make.

The proposals for Audley and Queens Park are part of the Council’s Children’s Centre and Family Hubs review.

The planning application outlines how the existing facilities there could be extended to create a new youth centre to be run by local youth organisation, IMO.

The centre would be open seven days a week with a specialist mental health offer, employability and rehabilitation support too.

Councillor Gunn added:

The designs for these two schemes are impressive, but what’s important is that we know the facilities will help change lives.

As a Council, we also recently secured £20m through the Levelling-Up Fund for an educational campus of national significance – part of the £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan.

Work has started on the Department for Education’s flagship development of Blackburn College’s iconic Victoria Building too – creating state-of-the-art facilities there.

We are working incredibly hard to give our children and young people the very best start in life, we will not let them be left behind.

Plans for all three schemes submitted for planning have been developed by award-winning architects John Puttick Associates working with planning consultants, Cassidy & Ashton.

You can view the planning applications at:

The other two YIF projects are at Blackburn Youth Zone’s Fuse Box Building and the Shadsworth Hub.

You can read about them all at

The four Youth Investment Fund schemes are:

Darwen Youth Centre – £3.3m – Blackburn with Darwen Council bid

Project builds on the success of the existing Darwen Youth Centre and Youth Zone Darwen with the Knott Street facility set to double in size as part of plans to add an extra level on to the existing building.

The redevelopment will boast a new wellbeing area, creative workshop space, recording and DJ studio, gaming zone and multi-use spaces and the outdoor sports facilities will be upgraded too.

This will add a real boost to the town which is also benefiting from £100m of new investment through the Darwen Town Deal, of which Youth Zone Trustee, Wayne Wild is Chair. And, already, youngsters are benefiting from new and improved sporting facilities in the town – Junction4 is now an Olympic, world-class skate park plus significant investment at Darwen FC and Darwen Cricket Club.

The Fuse Box – £2.9m – Blackburn with Darwen Youth Zone bid

The striking heritage building – known as the Fuse Box and dating back to the 1800s as Blackburn’s first power station – will be developed into a new Employment Skills Hub – supporting young people into work and helping them fulfil their potential with a state-of-the-art Employment Skills Hub.

The space will be used to bring young people and industry together to address identified skills gaps, supporting young people to acquire new skills to meet demand and access a range of employment opportunities to improve the economic wellbeing of the young people of Blackburn with Darwen.

The Fuse Box is an important heritage project for the town too. Safeguarding historic buildings is a key priority for the council. At Blackburn College, work has also just started on a flagship Department for Education scheme at the iconic Victoria Building too – transforming it into a modern hub of learning, skills and community activity – complete with a top floor art space. That’s part of the £50m Blackburn Cultural Quarter.

Audley and Queen’s Park Children’s Centre – £1m – Blackburn with Darwen Council bid – part of the Council’s Children’s Centre and Family Hubs review, the existing facilities there will be transformed for children and young people living in the area. Their nearest youth centre is currently up to a 40 minute walk away.

The new youth centre there will be run by local youth organisation IMO.

The centre will be open seven days a week for them to enjoy with a specialist mental health offer, employability and rehabilitation support too.

The IMO Charity is planning to offer the following activities from the hub:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Gaming
  • Sports development, e.g. football, pool, team games
  • Learning about safety – internet, road and first aid
  • Learning about community
  • Community relations and cross community initiatives
  • Local and national residential workshops
  • International exchanges
  • Global awareness programmes
  • Active citizenship community initiatives
  • Health and wellbeing – drug awareness, sexual health, healthy eating and cookery


Shadsworth Hub – £800,000 – Newground Together bid – part of Together Housing Group investing almost £20m in an ambitious plan to improve community facilities, outdoor spaces and homes in the Shadsworth area, the new youth hub – opposite the local park – will be open to all youngsters in the area, offering impressive new indoor and outdoor spaces for them to enjoy.

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