Barnfield to submit further plans for Weavers

Gareth Smith, project director of Barnfield Construction, told guests at this week's Burnley Bondholders event, the developer would deliver speculative offices and student accommodation at the same time as its university technical college in the major canal-side project.

Smith said planning applications would be submitted in May or June for up to 25,000 sq ft of speculative offices in Slaters Terrace, former Weavers' cottages fronting the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, and 25,000 sq ft in neighbouring Sandygate Mill to the rear. Architect Campbell Driver Partnership is designing the renovation projects.

Talks have started with a couple of firms interested in taking space in the listed Slaters Terrace after it is converted, Smith told attendees during his presentation.

The delivery of speculative commercial space and jobs at the scheme is a condition of the £8.8m Regional Growth Fund allocation awarded by government towards Weavers' Triangle and the Todmorden Curve rail link, which will enable direct services to resume to Manchester. The RGF bid was made jointly by Barnfield, Burnley Council, Lancashire County Council and Network Rail. The rail link is due to open in 2014.

Smith said there would also be an application made in the coming weeks for the first 100 beds of student accommodation at Weavers' Triangle and negotiations had started with specialist operators.

The student accommodation will serve the new university training college in the Grade 2-listed Victoria Mill within Weavers' Triangle. The UTC is directly funded by the Department for Education as an academy and will open in September 2013. A planning application is due to be decided upon by Burnley Council at the end of May and work will start on site in the first week of June.

The 800-capacity college will be run by Blackburn-based Training 2000 and aimed at 14 to 19-year-olds, with a curriculum tailored to the engineering and construction industries. The aerospace supply chain in east Lancashire is a large employer but the workforce is ageing, with 40% of the current engineering community over 45 years old.

There will be three colleges covering courses from GCSE up to degree level, backed by the University of Central Lancashire and Liverpool John Moores University. The Blackburn office of Capita Symonds is designing the college.

Smith said: "The university technical college will deliver footfall to bring activity to the site and then hopefully the other uses will move in nicely alongside that. There is a perception that this is not part of the town centre but it is only a few minutes walk from the main shopping area and we believe the activity here will create a link to the town centre."

More than 100 local business people and council representatives attended the Burnley Bondholders meeting on Wednesday, held at Victoria Mill itself.

Smith said the scheme had the support of English Heritage, which remains actively involved in the design process.

Indigo Planning advises Barnfield.

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