Blackburn with Darwen approves fire-damaged church resurrection
St John the Evangelist will be transformed into an innovation hub in the first phase of the council’s £250m town centre masterplan.
Blackburn with Darwen approved its own plans to breathe new life into the fire-damaged grade two-listed church, which sits off Victoria Street within Blackburn’s Tech Innovation Quarter, at a planning meeting last Thursday. This decision was made in line with officer recommendations.
A skills and education campus is also due to come forward as part of the first set of works. New town centre homes, improved public open spaces, and increased cycle and pedestrian routes linked to the canal are set to follow.
Manchester-based OMI Architects has designed the innovation hub, which will feature 9,000 sq ft of office space across four floors.
Proposals include 20 office units and pods along with co-working space and meeting rooms.
The hub has been designed to reflect the importance of St John’s in the local community, with an emphasis on key internal characteristics and the protection of asset features where possible.
The building dates back to 1788 and was used as a place of worship until 1975, when it closed and was later transferred to council ownership to become an arts centre.
Having sustained significant fire damage in 2019, the arts centre was relocated to the Thwaites Visitor Centre off Penny Street and the property has been vacant since.
Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “We’ve worked hard with award-winning architects, OMI and key stakeholders on these plans to resurrect St John’s Church and sensitively reinstate much of its former glory.
“We want to ensure that its long history can be celebrated with a strong, new future – a future that builds on the borough’s enviable reputation for entrepreneurism and impressive record for successful business start-ups and links to the new cyber opportunities here in Lancashire.”
Plans were submitted for the redevelopment in September.
Along with OMI, the project team includes Crosby Granger Architects, OFR Consultants, GL Hearn, Appleyard and Trew, Max Fordham, and Renaissance.
For those who want to learn more about the project, the application can be found by searching for 10/23/0777 on Blackburn with Darwen Council’s planning portal.