Place Visioning, Architecture & Urbanism, Community Engagement

Whitebirk

Balancing Innovation with Community Needs

Whitebirk is an estate situated in Blackburn, with a complex backstory influenced by industrial growth and subsequent decline. Initially thriving due to its proximity to heavy industry and the Whitebirk Power Station, the closure of the power station in 1976 triggered significant job losses and socio-economic issues. The estate grapples with challenges such as subsidence, flood risk, poor neighborhood design, and underused spaces, fostering feelings of neglect and safety concerns among residents.

To tackle these issues, a holistic approach is proposed. This involves extensive community engagement to grasp local concerns and aspirations, collaboration with local authorities and community stakeholders, and innovative place-shaping strategies. Key initiatives include targeted demolition and ground stabilization to optimise new construction opportunities, infill strategies to meet housing demands and demographic needs, and the adoption of Modern Methods of Construction to create sustainable, energy-efficient homes. Moreover, sustainable drainage schemes and park rejuvenation aim to enhance recreational spaces and address environmental issues.

The masterplan for Whitebirk entails the development of 155 new homes, a new park catering to multiple age groups, expanded pedestrian pathways, and improved streetscapes. The aim is to foster a lively, sustainable community that attracts new residents while supporting existing ones. Investments in public realm enhancement, placemaking, and the retrofitting of existing homes align with the vision of transforming Whitebirk into an appealing residential destination that addresses longstanding challenges and nurtures a sense of belonging and community spirit.