Following the closure of the 'old' market in Blackburn as the prospects of the 'new' market underneath the Mall is as yet unknown, although we hope it thrives, as Blackburn surely needs this. What are the options for the old market site? There is a concern that Blackburn with Darwen council will fall into the trap of allowing one of the big supermarket chains to redevelop the site. Does the centre of Blackburn need another supermarket? Should we fall for the cash cow again? We need differentiation and variety. |
How about Blackburn council being brave and creating spaces that give the town a real unique selling point to attract visitors and business to the town? We believe a modern and attractive outdoor market and new restaurant quarter may be part of a brave and innovative solution.
The town could create stall space under a modern covering that can host regular markets. Examples of markets include Fresh Produce and Food, Farmers' Markets, Charity Markets, Antique Markets, Continental Markets. How exciting and attractive to visitors would this be?
A further suggestion includes a restaurant quarter with many units that are on sensible rents and rates to really attract business. How about offering lower rents to local entrepreneurs, so we don't just end up with the standard national chains? We could also create small retail units on the same basis for local business.
Most of all, create decent parking on the space that is free after 5pm everyday to encourage people to visit the restaurant quarter.
We need thinking beyond the standard and should resist the offers of another supermarket. Let's make our town different, vibrant and exciting. Be brave! Like our Facebook post and page to join the campaign.
Following the news story that the former Cheers Bar on King William Street has had their licence revoked following an appalling range of alcohol related violence and under-age drinking, is this the end for Blackburn as an evening destination?
Looking back 10 or 20 years ago, Blackburn had a thriving evening economy, with places such as Peppermint Place, Manhattan Heights, Coconut Grove, Daniels and many more. People used to travel from miles around to visit the busy town centre. Now this isn't necessarily the kind of evening economy the town needs and a thriving restaurant and bar culture that is family friendly should surely be the aim of everyone.
It is testament to the sorry state of the evening culture in Blackburn that restaurants such as Pizza Hut, KFC and Tiggi's have not been able to survive in Blackburn town centre. In fact, Darwen probably has a wider choice of restaurants than Blackburn. The closure of The Mall in the evenings, although understandable, also creates a solid block of 'no access' right in the heart of town. The redevelopment of The Mall and the market may well have increased footfall during the day, but there is nothing to entice those extra people to stay longer. The redevelopment of the Cathedral Quarter appears to have stalled and is quickly running out of time and the empty Margo Grimshaw flats development add to the frustration.
Blackburn with Darwen Council currently have a golden opportunity in their hands. The former site of the market is a massive area at the heart of the town centre which is awaiting redevelopment. It has been reported that The Mall is one of the handful of companies bidding to develop this large area. The council will decide which of the bidders will get to develop this area but we have long recommended an alternative. Blackburn town centre needs a unique selling point and the addition of more chain stores or, even worse, another supermarket will not add to Blackburn's attractiveness for their evening offering.
Blackburn Council should put the proposals for redevelopment to the public, so that we can all have a say in how our town centre moves forward. The death of the nighttime culture suggests that the choices of redevelopment in the past have not solved the problem and something as vital as this massive redevelopment needs as wide a consultation as possible.
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