THE link road at the heart of a flagship multi-million pound development has been completed and officially opened.

The key highway between Milking Lane and Greenbank Terrace makes the scheme on the site of the former Lower Darwen Paper Mill near Junction 4 of the M65 viable.

The ‘Mill Bank’ project, a joint venture between Barnfield Developments and Blackburn with Darwen Council, will see the ‘brownfield’ land turned into homes and commercial premises.

The completed Millbank Road through the site provides access to the future development plots for residential and commercial use and reduces congestion on Milking Lane.

Extensive works have also been carried out to help reduce flooding on Greenbank Terrace.

Deals have been agreed for 48,500 square feet of commercial space with occupiers for three of the four available plots. Work is due to start early next year if planning permission is granted.

The Barnfield Blackburn Ltd joint venture is in advanced discussions with an occupier for the remaining plot.

Elan Homes, which has bought two parcels on land on the site, is due submit plans in the autumn for 76 new family houses .

Tracy Clavell-Bate, head of development at the Brierfield-based Barnfield Group commented: “To have three out of the four commercial plots under offer at this stage is phenomenal and further quantifies the demand for commercial space is at a peak not just here in East Lancashire but across the Northwest.

“We are keen to get back on site building as soon as we have the necessary consent.”

Simon Jones, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s growth director, said: “The council is pleased to see its first joint venture development with Barnfield performing so well, especially given the significant sites challenges. We welcome the opening of the new Millbank road for our residents and businesses of Lower Darwen to use.”

Debbie Francis, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership which contributed £1.4million to the scheme, said: “It is great to see public and private sector partners working together.

“We are delighted to support this project which will result in a high quality mixed-use development in the area.

“The completed new road and reduced flood risk measures provide the essential infrastructure to deliver new homes, commercial space and jobs.”