St John’s Church: A new chapter for historic Blackburn building

Artist impressions have been released for the first time of how Blackburn’s St John’s church could be transformed into a high-quality, sustainable workspace.

The Grade II listed building was extensively damaged by a fire in 2019, but plans have now been submitted to convert it into an innovation hub as part of the council’s £250m Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan.

The proposals include creating 9,000 square feet of office space over four floors, with a proposed new roof space. The hub would also be linked to the neighbouring Making Rooms, which provides co-working space and meeting rooms.

From the planning applications many images were submitted of the current condition of the historic building including its stained glass, which may be lost forever. Also submitted were historic drawings and pictures of the church. The full planning application can be seen online here

Councillor Phil Riley, leader of the council, said: “Submitting this new planning application is an important next step in securing the future of St John’s Church.

“The historic building, with its bell tower, has long been a prominent building on the Blackburn town centre skyline and is part of the character of our town.

“We’ve been working hard with award-winning architects OMI on these new plans, ensuring that St John’s history can be celebrated with a strong, new future.”

Here is a gallery of some of the proposals that have been submitted:

OMI Architects, which is based in Manchester, has won 12 national and regional RIBA awards and is well-known for its work on museums, galleries and churches.

St John’s Church dates back to 1788 and was used as a place of worship until 1975, when it was transferred to council ownership.

The development is part of the first phase of the Blackburn Town Centre Masterplan, which also includes plans for a new skills and education campus, new low-carbon town centre living, and improved public open spaces.

The council hopes that the masterplan will help to transform the town centre and create a more prosperous borough.

If the application is approved, work on the development is expected to start in autumn 2024.

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