Balle Mill, Barnfield Construction, p Blackburn with Darwen Council

Work on the Brookhouse Aerospace base is expected to complete next summer. Credit: via Blackburn with Darwen Council

Barnfield starts on Brookhouse Aerospace HQ

The civil and defence aerospace manufacturer will expand its operations from India Mill in Darwen to the nearby Balle Mill site in a scheme sponsored by the local authority’s ambitious £100m Town Deal vision.

Barnfield Construction has commenced work on the new Brookhouse Aerospace headquarters, which will be a mixture of offices and warehouse space across 33,500 sq ft. This space will be in addition to Brookhouse’s location at India Mill, which will continue to be used for manufacturing even after the new headquarters finishes in summer 2024.

Matthew Rossiter, chief executive of Brookhouse, said: “The new development with its additional floorspace, is key in supporting Brookhouse Aerospace’s long-term growth strategy, creating additional capacity and space for expansion.

“The purpose-built facility will aid lean manufacturing principles, whilst also supporting the company’s environmental commitments to reduce its carbon footprint and wider social responsibilities.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council estimates that around 60 local jobs could be created in the next five years by keeping Brookhouse in Darwen and providing space for the business to expand. The headquarters development also means the retention of 100 jobs in the town.

Barnfield purchased the Balle Mill site in 2012 for around £240,000 according to media reports, and subsequently demolished the 160-year-old Victorian building. Planning permission for the Brookhouse Aerospace facility was approved in September 2022, with the help of Campbell Driver Partnership, Bowland Ecology, RS Acoustic Engineering, Mode Transport Planning, and GeoSmart.

The plot was labelled as an employment growth site in Blackburn with Darwen’s successful £25m bid to the government’s Town Deal programme. Those funds have joined up with council investment and private backing to create a £100m ambition. Of that £100m, £8.4m has been allocated to promote the Balle Mille site and another location in Chapels.

Through the council’s joint venture with Barnfield, both of these sites are on their way to being developed, with the Chapels plot set to hold an advanced manufacturing research centre.

Wayne Wild, chair of the Darwen Town Deal board, said that the Balle Mill scheme was a prime example of what the Town Deal awards were supposed to bring about.

“The focus of the £100m Town Deal has always been to kick-start the transformation of Darwen,” he said, adding: “This includes creating as many new jobs as we can while, of course, working hard to safeguard what we already have.”

Wild also said that, in its bid to expand, Brookhouse had flirted with moving outside of the Darwen area.

“They were presented with several viable opportunities, some of which were outside of the Darwen area, as they were struggling for the right space,” Wild said. “This is a real coup and again a really good example of the difference the funding can make.”

Other Darwen Town Deal projects include the refurbishment of the Market Hall and Library Theatre, which is expected to commence next year, and the installation of ultrafast broadband in the town.

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Hope something is done about state of the roads leading to the site it’s full of potholes and Council says it’s not an adoped road but they have no waiting signs and yellow lines on it

By Brian

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