Blackburn Cathedral Quarter – vibrant open spaces in the town centre

15th August 2017

Blackburn’s new Cathedral Quarter is the result of a £34 million regeneration project, which has transformed the town centre’s cathedral area.

The development had created a new vibrant mixed-use quarter including public areas and gardens that link the Cathedral directly with a new Cathedral Square, featuring offices, restaurants and a hotel.

In addition, the new Cathedral Court – the first cloister construction in the country for over 500 years – includes residence for clergy staff and scholars, library, gallery and café.

The brief:

The project brief was to create a series of open spaces to better define and celebrate the Cathedral and its approaches, whilst introducing new leisure and tourism destinations that would enhance the visitor experience and boost the local economy.

The development covered a large area including the redevelopment of the existing bus exchange which created new public spaces and an improved setting for the Cathedral and new buildings. A new piazza-style square was designed to become a usable and animated space.

Alongside enhancing the Cathedral and its gardens, the scheme introduced modern architecture, designed by Building Design Partnership, to add richness and texture to the area and setting the scene for future projects.

The hard landscaping, designed by Planit-IE, needed to marry this mergence of old and new – enhancing the Cathedral buildings and restoration the town’s Queen Victoria statue and providing a fitting backdrop for the new architecture.

Materials used:

Hardscape provided 4000sqm of materials for the project as well as designing, detailing and supplying 300lm of steps and the plinth stones which framed the restoration of the Queen Victoria statue.

700sqm of Neland Dutch clay was specified for the areas around the Cathedral and statue, providing a striking, yet sympathetic linear approach which pays homage to the historic and landmark building.

3500sqm of Magma granite paving supports the seamless transition from old to new, complementing the new architecture and providing a stunning landscape for the town’s new piazza-style square. Granite was also used to clad the six-story BREEAM Excellent office block, marrying the traditional and modern elements of the scheme.

Buff sandstone was specified for the Cathedral gardens – to give a natural, yet hardwearing backdrop to the beautiful gardens. Hardscape Magma granite was also laid in a unique permeable manner.

Results:

The Cathedral Quarter development has significantly transformed Blackburn town centre, boosting the local economy, attracting new business to the area and links the transport hub (train station and bus station) to the heart of Blackburn centre.

The Cathedral is now a fitting centre-piece to the town with a public realm that will provide a vibrant community space for years to come.

Former Blackburn MP, Jack Straw, said: “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.”