Darwen reveals £90m regeneration plan

Blackburn with Darwen Council has revealed how it intends to invest the £90m earmarked for a major regeneration programme in Darwen.

The budget includes £25m secured from the government's Town deal fund, together with £65m committed by the council and private investors.

The proposals will see £13m invested in revamping the town centre, and £47m committed to creating and safeguarding jobs in the town.

The proposals include:

  • Refurbishing and repurposing the Market Hall and Library Theatre (£13.4m)
  • Completion of the Belgrave Heights town centre living site and new residential opportunities (£14.2m)
  • New employment growth sites to help pave the way for new jobs (£8.4m.)
  • A new Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Accelerator at Chapels in Darwen (£5.1m)
  • Support of Perspex's £30m relocation to new, purpose-built facilities (£3.5m)
  • A new East Lancs Sports Village including facilities at AFC Darwen, Junction4 Skatepark and Darwen Cricket Club (£4.6m)
  • Ultrafast broadband provision (£5.5m)
  • Additional money set aside for improving accessibility and the appearance of the gateways to Darwen.

Coun Phil Riley, executive member for growth and development at Blackburn with Darwen Council and deputy chair of the Darwen Town Deal Board, said: "This is more investment in Darwen than we’ve seen in our lifetimes. The Town Deal Funding, which the board worked so hard to secure, is acting as a catalyst for significant investment in the town, including £13.8m which we’ve committed as a council.

"There’s no doubt that the £90m is a life-changing sum of money and residents and businesses are going to see real change – to the town and in the opportunities for growth and jobs. It really does feel like the start of something special for Darwen and its future and we’re looking forward to working really hard as a board and council to make sure we make the most of the opportunities."

The Town Deal Board, chaired by Wayne Wild, successfully bid for the full £25m available through the government’s Towns Fund. The money set out strict criteria for how it could be with an emphasis on creating/securing jobs, viable and attractive town centres, new business growth opportunities and improved connectivity for residents and businesses.

All of the schemes have the required ‘match funding’ – additional investment from the council, businesses and private investors. Council officers are now supporting the board to develop strong business cases for each of the proposals to unlock the government funding with hopes that the first of the work can start towards the end of 2022.

The report to the Executive Board will be considered at the meeting on Thursday, March 10.

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