Providing homes and generating jobs through specialist planning and design

Date Published

23/04/2021

Reading time

3 mins read

We are supporting Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in projects to boost its local economy with new developments across the borough.

New Developments will provide homes and support essential, key worker jobs boost the local economy and help to create vibrant, healthy communities.

However, achieving these outcomes requires a wide variety of skills and experience on challenging sites and where traffic congestion makes access difficult

Our place and asset solutions team are helping Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to overcome these challenges and progress major projects, by providing urban design, surveying, strategic property support and business case services.

As one of the largest and fastest growing urban centres in Lancashire, Blackburn has ambitious plans to achieve “strong and inclusive growth outcomes for residents and communities”.

We worked closely with the council’s growth and development team to prepare a spatial strategy for South East Blackburn, which identified key council- and privately-owned sites and provided a clear vision for the area’s future development.

This led to the creation of the South East Blackburn Growth Zone Area, which aims to:

  • Deliver 1,000 new homes as part of a wider, sustainable and well-connected neighbourhood
  • Improve roads and the link between Blackburn town centre and the nearby motorway
  • Provide 150 affordable key worker homes for local NHS employees as part of a 300-home, open-market development on a large council-owned site.


We secured £120,000 of public sector funding from the One Public Estate (OPE) programme to expand the scope and impact of the South East Blackburn Growth Zone. We used the funding to build a business case, which determined the need for new offices, training facilities and key worker accommodation for the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

We helped appoint a contractor to carry out the extensive highway improvements via the local developer framework, which Capita helped to set up for the local authority.

The key worker housing development was tendered by the council using Homes England’s DPP3 Framework. We completed site feasibility studies, developmen briefs and tender reviews to support this. A Preferred developer has now been appointed by the Council’s Executive Board.

Developing a new medical and science park

A key development in the Growth Zone area is for a medical and science park on council-owned land next to the Royal Blackburn Hospital. The plans, which have been supported using OPE funding, include:

  • New office and training accommodation for the hospital
  • Capacity to expand and improve local health and medical technology facilities.


We prepared building use plans and schedules to support an outline business case for the development, and we identified development strategies to address the key challenges highlighted by specialist surveys and technical reports.

A long-standing issue with developing the site, which is located close to a motorway, was the amount of congestion on local roads. We helped the council to secure £13.5m in local growth funding from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to tackle congestion across Blackburn, with a significant amount going to build the Haslingden Road gateway. These works are now underway and are expected to be finished in spring 2022.

The Medipark development, with its new training / office hub, will attract further innovative and allied businesses, adding to the 700 new jobs planned across the area. It’s expected to be completed in 2025.

We are continuing to work closely with the council and its housing partners to transform the area and also open up new employment sites, which are now possible thanks to the highway improvements.

To find out how we can help you to realise the potential of development sites in your area, contact localpublicservices@capita.co.uk.

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