Victoria building Blackburn front p Blackburn College

The heritage project is expected to take 22 months to complete. Credit: via Blackburn College

Blackburn College’s £25m refurb up for approval

The Department for Education has applied for permission to significantly remodel and refurbish the grade two-listed Victoria Building, described as the “front door” of the college campus.

The Victoria Building was constructed in 1888 as the main building housing Blackburn’s technical college and has remained in teaching use in the years since. Blackburn College today is a general further education college that offers higher education to around 10,000 students.

It is located on the western edge of Blackburn town centre and the Victoria Building lies on the eastern side of the campus, between Blakey Moor to the north and Nab Lane to the south.

The DfE, with its main contractor Bam Construction, plans to invest a £25m allocation from the government’s Further Education Capital Transfer Fund in a “comprehensive refurbishment and partial remodelling” to bring the building into the 21st century and spruce up certain parts of its elevations, roof, and internal features.

Most of the proposed works fall under the category of repairs and redecoration, but there would also be two new lecture theatres created from within the fabric of the building, social spaces, and a range of classroom improvements.

There would also be some additions to floorspace within the lightwell areas, but this totals less than 500 sq ft, according to planning documents. In general, the project would seek to modernise the facilities and improve teaching, while restoring the historic features of the building – an “embodiment of Northern Renaissance civic architecture” with its finely detailed façade and interior spaces, planning documents state.

Victoria Building Blackburn College p via planning docs

The building is an example of Northern Renaissance architecture. Credit: via planning documents

Subject to approval, the refurbishment work is expected to take 22 months, during which time a temporary classroom would be installed in the college car park next to the leisure centre, under a separate application from the college.

The project has three planning applications attached – the main planning application, an application for listed building consent, and the request for the temporary classroom. All three applications are recommended for approval by Blackburn with Darwen Council’s planning committee when it meets next Thursday.

RPS Group is advising the DfE and Bam.

Dr Fazal Dad, principal and chief executive of Blackburn College, said: “The planning application supports the £25m investment being made by Blackburn College through the Further Education Capital Transfer Fund.

“This significant investment will futureproof educational resources and facilities for current and future learners for the communities of Blackburn with Darwen and neighbouring towns.

“[It] will provide flexible and digitalised teaching and learning facilities for all learners, as well as two new lecture theatres, social spaces, and a range of other improvements.”

He added: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment to upgrade a truly unique and historic building, to enhance and improve the social mobility of our communities through the power of education.

“It supports our ongoing commitment to provide the highest quality of education to empower and inspire our communities to achieve their aspirational goals.”

The planning applications are ref 10/22/0913 and 10/22/0921 with Blackburn with Darwen Council.

Victoria Building artist impression interior p Blackburn College

The investment is intended to upgrade classrooms and other teaching spaces. Credit: via Blackburn College

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Lovely building.

By Digbuth O'Hooligan

Beautiful building….also links to important town centre development area

By George

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