Plans for a ground-breaking multi-million pound new manufacturing and research centre in Darwen have been submitted.

The development on a five-acre site at Chapels are set to include an Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Accelerator - the first-of-its-kind in the UK and backed by Sheffield University.

The project – supported by the £100 million Darwen Town Deal - has been brought forward by Barnfield Blackburn Ltd, a joint venture between Barnfield Group and Blackburn with Darwen Council.

The proposals, led by DAY Architectural Ltd, boasts a new manufacturing research centre along with eight smaller industrial units which will create what is known as a 'sector cluster'.

Discussions are well-advanced with Sheffield University's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to be the anchor tenant there, housing its pioneering Additive Manufacturing Accelerator expected to cost more than £5.1m.

Subject to the plans being approved, Barnfield Construction could start work on the new centre on land off Goose House Lane in early 2024.

The firm's development boss Tracy Clavell-Bate, said the new centre would be 'a huge coup' for Darwen.

Perspex International Ltd, a major employer in the town, is also developing plans to expand its neighbouring Chapels site with a proposed new £30m national manufacturing centre there also supported by the Town Deal.

The planning application from the firm, formerly Lucite International, is expected to be submitted later in the year.

Chair of the Darwen Town Deal Board Wayne Wild said: “Our vision has always been that we would use the £25m of Government Town Deal funding – worth £100m with council and private investment - as a catalyst to kick-start the transformation of the town.

“High on our agenda is employment growth and business innovation – using the funding to help safeguard and create new jobs and opportunities in the town through investing in sites to prepare them for development.

“Darwen has a long and proud industrial heritage – being a world-leader - and so we’re proud to be able to support plans for this new manufacturing and research centre and this application is a fantastic step forward.”

The proposed site plan, submitted as part of the planning application, shows how the land off Goose House Lane could be developed to house the new manufacturing research centre with the eight smaller units being for flexible commercial use.

Tracy Clavell-Bate, head of development at Barnfield Group, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to bring forward these strong proposals for the Chapels site.

“This is a prime location for a manufacturing development like this and we are already engaging in initial discussions with the AMRC to be the anchor tenant there, should the plans be approved.

“It would be the first Additive Manufacturing Accelerator of its kind in the UK, bringing with it a whole host of opportunities for the town.

“Having an AMRC in Darwen would be a huge coup.”

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s leader and deputy chair of the Darwen Town Deal, Councillor Phil Riley, said: “We are an ambitious borough with ambitious plans for growth.

“Schemes like this proposed manufacturing research centre unlock new possibilities for Darwen – creating new jobs and supporting existing businesses to grow.

“There is a huge sense of momentum here and we’re working really hard to continue to build on that, these plans being yet another really good example of the results of strong partnership working and the confidence in Blackburn with Darwen as a place to invest and do business.”

* Sheffield University is also involved in the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West is based at the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone which opened in March.