Prestigious design team appointed for major town centre project

A LEADING team of designers has been appointed for an ambitious, multi-million pound regeneration scheme for Barrow’s town centre.

Manchester-based Buttress Architects, working with designers OPEN and engineers WSP, were selected during a competitive tender process to complete the design element of a scheme to re-imagine Barrow Market Hall, creating instead a destination for shopping and experiences with independent traders and local food producers at its heart.

The project will also include a new exterior for The Market Hall and neighbouring arts and entertainment venue The Forum, a new community hub, as well as public realm improvements to Duke Street and the rear of the building, to create better transport connections and spaces for events.

The scheme received £16 million from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund and will incorporate elements of the £25 million #BrilliantBarrow Town Deal. It will be overseen by Barrow Borough Council.

Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “We’re excited to have appointed such a prestigious team, led by Buttress, and look forward to engaging with the community as part of the process.

“We know the way people use their high street is changing in towns and cities the length and breadth of the country and that this change has been further exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.

“There’s no mistaking that this is not simply a refresh of our existing market hall. It’s a much larger, more ambitious project that will herald a new era for the high street in the town.”

Buttress Architects are among the UK’s leading practices and have been at the helm of a raft of award-winning designs for properties and the built environment. These include work to bring Manchester’s Mackie Mayor back to life - a Grade II listed meat market hall which had sat empty for more than two decades.

Working with them are OPEN, leading masterplanners and landscape architects, who have previously delivered high quality public spaces at the V&A in Dundee and the new £1bn St.James quarter in Edinburgh.

The £16 million Levelling Up Fund grant was awarded to Barrow in October 2021. The aim of the fund itself is to regenerate town centres across the country, assist cultural and heritage institutions, and build up transport projects.

Work on the scheme’s design will get underway immediately and will be informed by a series of engagement events with the community and local stakeholders over the coming months. These will be organised by Barrow Borough Council with dates and locations to be confirmed in the coming weeks. 

A formal planning application will be submitted in spring 2023. It is anticipated the work will be completed by 2025.

Chithra Marsh, Associate Director at Buttress Architects, said: “We’re delighted to have been appointed by Barrow Borough Council to develop the designs for this ambitious project. 

“Over the next few months, we’ll be hosting a series of engagement events and workshops and we encourage local people to come along, have their say, and help shape the vision for the market hall.”

Mark Foster, Associate at OPEN, said “We are excited to continue our work supporting Barrow Borough Council in realising their regeneration ambition. It’s such an important project and we’re looking forward to creating a vibrant new asset for the town.”