Blackburn unveils plans for town centre skills and cyber campus

By Tim Aldred

04 Jul 2024

Blackburn Cyber Campus Visuals

A planning application has been submitted for a new Skills and Cyber Campus in Blackburn which will build on the town's links with the county's burgeoning digital sector.

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.

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.

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 the University of Central Lancashire for its training company, Training 2000, to expand and re-locate to the development and occupy the first building.

Simon Jones, growth director at Blackburn with Darwen Council, 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.”

Nick Hague, project director for Maple Grove Developments, said: "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.”

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.

Enjoyed this? Read more from Tim Aldred

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