Feasibility study for the development and future of the Crown Paints HQ and main production site.


Crown have a long affinity with Darwen, having been based there under various guises since 1777. Over that time, the processes and nature of the business have changed considerably, and in 2012, Crown find themselves with a large site, with a number of redundant buildings, and hap-hazard layout. The purpose of this study was to rationalise the manufacturing and office sides of the business, while looking into alternative uses for the remainder, including an education space, business incubators and residential development, in order to maximise value, and act as a catalyst for local regeneration.


Working with Tom Black Architects, we proposed a number of solutions, which looked at different levels of building retention or replacement. Common to all solutions was to move all of the manufacturing to the north of the site, and re-route heavy vehicle traffic to and from the motorway, while using the south of the site for the Crown HQ, education space and third party business units, linked by a central boulevard, which would introduce a high quality piece of public realm into the site. The outlying buildings in the southern corner were identified as either office space or for residential conversion. The most radical option proposed keeping the best of the existing buildings, while constructing a new purpose built HQ in the centre of the site.


Feedback on the scheme was extremely positive – as well as working with Crown, the proposals were developed in conjunction with the Local Council, Blackburn and Darwen College and the Homes and Communities Agency who were all fully supportive of the proposals. The idea of the site being a regenerative catalyst for Darwen, supporting local business and industry was particularly welcomed. From an operational point of view, the proposals would increase efficiency and maximise the value of the site. In addition, it would encourage more social interaction on site, where currently different departments could become isolated, harking back to the days of the social club as a focal point for the community.