Blackburn Cathedral Quarter

Maple Grove Developments, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
Total Scheme £34m. EWCE £3m
JCT Design & Build Subcontract


Maple Grove Developments (part of the Eric Wright Group) worked as the Preferred Developer with Blackburn Cathedral and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council on the new Cathedral Quarter mixed use scheme; including the construction of the new Blackburn Transport Interchange immediately outside the town centre railway station

Eric Wright Civil Engineering were responsible for the civil engineering aspect of this £34m CEEQUAL winning project, to a value of £4m.

The works comprised:

The demolition of existing buildings, service diversions and drainage diversions to free up a town centre plot for the future development, including an office block and a Premier Inn hotel.

Upon completion of the enabling works, the main civils package comprised the strengthening and re-decking of an existing Victorian era culvert carrying the River Blakewater under the new development. In addition, EWCE undertook extensive re-modelling of the surrounding existing highway network as part of a S278 agreement, much of it constructed in high quality paving and finishes.

The scheme also required the construction of a new bus interchange and further extensive public realm areas with various elements of street furniture and high specification lighting.  This, too, encompassed high quality hard and soft landscaping finishes, totalling approximately 3500 m2 of granite paving.

The project included works on the Listed cathedral boundary walls and railings, a Listed war memorial and the waterproofing and underpinning of the Queen Victoria Statue.  The Queen Victoria statue and WWA memorial were removed, restored, waterproofed and relocated within the scheme.

Key Challenges

Blackburn Cathedral Quarter is located in a conservation area right in the heart of the busy town, on the main artery through the centre.  This project was located between the town centre railway station, the retail section of the town centre and other key destinations, such as Morrison’s Supermarket and the Blackburn Youth Zone, in additional to many more medium sized businesses and a satellite Police Station.

As such, the site and its surroundings received heavy football throughout the day and especially at peak period. Furthermore, most of the site was on major bus routes through the town centre, with upwards of 25 buses per hour travelling through the site at peak times.


The works were being undertaken concurrently with construction of three other buildings in close proximity which had their own construction traffic and deliveries

Added Value

Local subcontractors and labour were used as much as possible in order to benefit the local economy.

The following were achieved:

  • 43% of the workforce was classed as local workforce, with 25.79% of the workforce coming from within East Lancashire
  • 30% of the expenditure on the project was classed as local expenditure, with 28.83% of this coming from within East Lancashire
  • 5 weeks of work was provided in total to apprentices
  • 100% of the site waste was recycled, with none going to landfill.

The Council requested to deliver the construction of the bus interchange, following a dispute with their original principal contractor who had been dismissed from the scheme. It had been severely delayed and the Council faced pressure from local businesses and residents to get the facility open.

Following surveys and inspections, EWCE developed a revised 36 week programme which allowed for remedial works, along with progressing the new build. A firm opening date was agreed and achieved, enabling the Council to fulfil its promise to the local community.

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