A MAJESTIC peregrine falcon statue will be at the heart of the £1.5 million transformation of Darwen's market square.

The project is expected to be completed in spring and at the centre will be a peregrine falcon made of woven copper and sculpted by renowned artist, Liam Hopkins.

It is set to be unveiled as part of an official opening of the new square – marking the end of a year of work to transform the area.

Mr Hopkins said: "The idea of the bird relates directly to Darwen’s surroundings with the moors and the iconic India Mill.

"It reflects the heritage of the town, with weaving being one of the traditional trades.

"The Peregrine Falcon represents the people of Darwen too; they are strong and resilient. They may travel many miles, but they always favour a place that they like to call home."

Once completed, the area will boast three distinct areas – a large formal market square which will be big enough to host large outdoor events, an area of landscaping with seated areas and the potential for new shops in the larger refurbished units under Railway Road.

Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Council executive member for regeneration, said: "Darwen’s town centre has undergone a really impressive transformation.

"The residents of Darwen and their views have been at the very heart of the plans and we’ve worked closely with the Darwen Town Centre Partnership Board and the Heart of Darwen Design Reference Group to make sure we get this absolutely right.

"I’m really looking forward to the works being completed in the coming weeks so residents can start to enjoy the new space and all it has to offer.

"It’s incredibly important for towns like Darwen to find ways to attract visitors.

"This new area will allow for large-scale events that will draw people in, offer something different and new and support our local businesses.

"This is an exciting development for the town and the whole borough of Blackburn with Darwen.

John Sturgess, chair of Darwen Town Centre Partnership, said: “This idea has come directly from the information that Liam has heard from people in Darwen, which I am very pleased about.

"The images of the cardboard model look fantastic and I am looking forward to seeing the finished piece standing impressively in the new Darwen Market Square.”