Blackburn town centre masterplan vision, Blackburn with Darwen Council, p Blackburn with Darwen Council

Plans for the relocation were submitted in January. Credit: via Blackburn with Darwen Council

Major setback for £250m Blackburn masterplan

Supermarket chain Morrisons has pulled the plug on its planned relocation to the former Thwaites brewery site, a move that was seen as a catalyst for the regeneration of the town centre.

Morrisons’ relocation from its current store on Railway Road was an important piece of the puzzle when it came to the £250m, 10-year, Blackburn town centre masterplan.

The existing store would have been turned into a temporary green space, and was earmarked for redevelopment into around 500 homes in a future phase of the project under plans drawn up by BDP.

The wider masterplan also includes a £60m skills and education campus with a cyber zone, and a new tech innovation quarter.

Despite the Morrisons blow, Maple Grove, which is leading the regeneration project, is upbeat about the scheme’s future.

“We have been in discussions with Morrisons since 2021 and it is of course disappointing that they have taken the decision not to proceed,” a spokesperson said.

“That said, we are very confident about the site’s future, particularly with the skills and education campus planned on the other side of Penny Street. Working closely with our partner, Blackburn with Darwen Council, we are now assessing other development options for the former brewery site.”

Morrisons has decided not to relocate from its 97,000 sq ft store off Railway Road to a smaller, more energy-efficient replacement across the road due to concerns around viability. The existing supermarket will instead be upgraded.

Plans for the project were submitted in January but will now need to be reworked.

A spokesperson for Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “We are proud to be an incredibly ambitious council working on important schemes for both of our town centres, but this is against a difficult national backdrop.

“The planning application submitted by Maple Grove – the council’s joint venture with the Eric Wright Group – will now be withdrawn with Morrisons committing to updating their existing store.”

The spokesperson added that the Morrisons blow would not define the future of the town centre.

“The new Morrisons store was just one element of our £250m masterplan – the largest regeneration scheme of its type in the whole region.

“We have secured £20m of levelling up funding for a skills campus of regional significance with a cyber zone there – leveraging opportunities from the location of the National Cyber Force HQ at neighbouring Samlesbury. A planning application for that will be submitted in the coming months.”

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