Blackburn Cathedral Quarter

A vibrant new mixed use development transforming Blackburn Cathedral Quarter
CLIENT
Maple Grove Developments
SIZE
18,581 sqm
DATE COMPLETED
December 2015
VALUE
£16m
ARCHITECT
Building Design Partnership
SUSTAINABILITY
BREEAM Excellent

Overview

Maple Grove worked as the developers with Blackburn Cathedral and Blackburn with Darwen Council on the new Cathedral Quarter mixed-use scheme. As principal contractor, Eric Wright Construction managed the design and build of the project.

The development creates a new, vibrant, mixed-use quarter around the Cathedral in Blackburn town centre, supporting economic regeneration of the borough. The Blackburn Cathedral Quarter comprises of a new six-storey BREEAM Excellent office block, 60-bed Premier Inn hotel, restaurant and car park arranged around a new piazza-style public square and transport interchange.

The key aims of the scheme were:

  • The creation of new public, semi-public and private open spaces to better define, use and celebrate the Cathedral, its precinct and the approaches to it
  • The introduction of new leisure and tourism uses in Blackburn town centre to enhance the visitor experience as well as the night time economy
  • The introduction of a modern architecture based upon traditional models which can create a dense urban texture and set a standard for future development in the town

A series of new high-quality public places have been created over the existing bus interchange and overlaid to the Cathedral Gardens. The new public spaces are free from car parking, and provide an improved setting for the Cathedral and the new buildings, providing level access and flexible use.

The new piazza-style square has been designed, not just to link the Cathedral back into the town, but also to become a usable and animated space.

The Square contains pop up electricity points and water points to allow activities such as a Christmas fairs, concerts and the Cathedral Flower Festival to start to populate the space.

Awards

Winner of Best Large Commercial Building at the LABC Building Excellence Awards 2016

Best Commercial Property in the North West at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards 2017

Key Challenges

Eric Wright Construction has worked on many restricted and active city centre sites. Blackburn Cathedral Quarter is located right in the heart of the busy town on the main artery through the centre. The train station was located opposite our site with a new shopping centre and market in the close vicinity, creating a lively environment used regularly by pedestrians and vehicles.

A number of traffic and pedestrian management systems were put into place, which changed continually to meet the requirements of each project stage. Significant discussions were undertaken with local businesses prior to the planning application being submitted. This resulted in a change to the highway solution, maintaining access for traffic to drive in designated areas through the development, rather than the diversion originally proposed.

A monthly newsletter was produced throughout the development which was distributed around local residents and companies, with the local newspaper provided with regular news and updates.

 

With two contractors employed, there was opportunity for items such as deliveries, crane works etc to conflict at the key times of the development.  Both contractors needed to work together to deliver roadways and public realm improvements.  A monthly coordination meeting was arranged with the contractors and members of the Development Partners attending which helped ensure that the scheme was delivered on time and to budget with a high level of cooperation and coordination.

Added Value

Local history was retained within the development, with a statue of Queen Victoria renovated and replaced and the War Memorial refurbished and rededicated.

Many of the names on the war memorial could no longer be read so research was undertaken to ascertain all the names so that these could be re-inscribed and surviving relatives invited to the dedication service after practical completion of the development.

The Sword of Sacrifice, which had originally been on the side of the memorial, had been stolen so a new sword was designed from photographs and replaced on the memorial. As the development was progressed by a consortium of local businesses, we were keen that local subcontractors and labour were used as much as possible in order to benefit the local economy and benchmark targets were therefore set for the main contractor.

The following were achieved during the construction period:

  • 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.

“This new development has transformed Blackburn, giving it the feel of a city. The vision of the council and its various partners, who have been instrumental in delivering this, should be applauded.”
Jack Straw
MP

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Get in Touch

For all enquiries, please get in touch with the team here at Eric Wright.