Following extensive consultation, research and design expertise, we’re delighted to announce that the planning application for our £9 million redevelopment of The Exchange has been submitted to Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. This is a major milestone on our journey. Our grand plans include:-
- The lower ground floor – formerly Tiggi’s restaurant – redeveloped for community and work spaces as well as an upgraded cafe.
- The main storey will be restored to its Victorian Gothic glory and become an open plan performance, exhibition and gathering space.
- A new mezzanine floor with a cafe/bar will be created while the 1920’s block – used as back office space in the building’s days as the Apollo 5 cinema – will be refurbished with a roof terrace and bar.
- The existing imposing octagonal towered main entrance at the junction of King William Street, Exchange Street and Museum Street will be retained and restored.
Caer Butler, director of operations for The Exchange and the trustees of Re:Source, the charity behind the project have been working with architects, Buttress on the process which has been mainly funded by the Architectural Heritage Fund and match funding from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
“This is a massive step forward on our renovation and restoration journey and it’s taken a long time, a lot of work, collaboration and expertise to get here. The exciting plans include viewing balconies, a sky bar and access to all floors from one entrance. We are retaining the big stunning space and the edgy urban vibe which make it such a popular venue for so many amazing events already.
The design and access statement says external masonry will be cleaned, repaired and repointed. It added: “Historic stained glass is to be repaired and replaced on a like for like basis, and the historic vaulted ceiling, with embossed metal panels, will be restored and panels replaced.”
Blackburn with Darwen Council Leader Cllr Phil Riley said:
“The Cotton Exchange has stood proud in the centre of Blackburn since 1865. The building is a key part of our cultural offer and a plan to grow our local economy. In the last few years, the building has hosted the Confessional music festival, British Textile Biennial events, a national exhibition of Adidas footwear, an exclusive performance from magician Dynamo, as well as being a regular venue for our beloved National Festival of Making. To see The Cotton Exchange being brought back into use more permanently as a hub for the whole community and a cultural events space is a real boost to our Blackburn town centre growth plans.”
The application explains
“The Exchange is a landmark historic building within Blackburn, and the people of the town retain strong connections with it,both from its historic uses and also more recent events and exhibitions, which have provided an exciting glimpse of the building’s potential.
“A viable and public-facing long term mix of uses has been identified which will revitalise the Exchange, and provide a vibrant and inclusive facility to serve the community and reinstate this heritage asset as a focal point of Blackburn Town Centre.
“The Exchange will perform two distinct functions; providing work and community-focused spaces that support local people and offer a welcoming environment; and also an exciting multi-purpose space, facilitating a unique cultural offer within a stunning historic interior.
“It is not proposed to carry out a wholesale restoration of the historic features of the Exchange.
“It is proposed that surviving historic features will be conserved as found. This will result in a visual richness and variety.
“The existing café will be reconfigured and relocated into a more central and prominent setting within the Lower Ground Floor.
“The upper level is clearly the principle space within the Exchange.
“The sense of arrival and scale is considerable, with the barrel vaulted ceiling spanning the width of the space.
“The full-height Victorian Gothic windows (incorporating stained glass) are highly impressive and have survived well.
“The space has already been used for a number of uses, including exhibitions, performances and club nights, demonstrating its versatility and uniqueness.
“A key aspect of the brief is to retain the flexibility of the space to accommodate a variety of functions, including performances, assembly and exhibitions.
“The vaulted ceiling, Victorian Gothic windows/tracery and rose window render the space almost cathedral-like, and provide a unique ‘wow’ factor.
“The proposals,by curating and complementing the key architectural features, will respect the historic fabric and proportions.
“Until Re:Source acquired the building in the mid-2010s, the Exchange was falling into considerable disrepair.
“The proposals will revitalise this building and provide a place of work as well as a unique venue for cultural events and exhibitions that will complement King George’s Hall and provide a distinctive boost to the night time economy of the town.”