WORK on a second flagship office block in a regenerated town centre is set to start next year as the developer behind it begins seeking tenants.

The new six-storey Two Cathedral Square project in Blackburn is scheduled to see construction start in the late spring.

News that a timetable for work on the £8million block was now in place came as negotiations to relet the third floor of the existing One Cathedral Square building, vacated by The Organic Insurance Group in the summer, enter the final stages.

The project, by the Eric Wright Group’s Maple Grove Development arm, completes Blackburn with Darwen Council’s £40m plus Cathedral Quarter scheme which has included a 60-bed Premier Inn, new restaurants and the first set of clergy cloisters in the United Kingdom for 600 years.

The new block will be built along Railway Road opposite Blackburn Cathedral.

Cllr Phil Riley, the borough council’s regeneration boss, said: “This is exciting news.”

Estate agents Trevor Dawson are leading marketing to find potential tenants to pre-let the five floors of office space and a restaurant on the ground floor to join Starbucks, A Mano, Turtle Bay and Café Northcote in the square.

Its managing director Caroline James said: “This is a huge vote of confidence in Blackburn town centre and what is going on in the borough. Maple Grove is very bullish about the scheme.

“The third floor of One Cathedral Square has been let subject to contract.”

Cllr John Slater, leader of the council Conservative group, said: “My view on this depends on the business model. If the new block is to be filled with council staff I cannot support it. If it is filled with private tenants bringing income for the council and the borough, I am in favour.

“As we have seen with the original office block, tenants come and go far too quickly.”

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Tony Duckworth, president of Blackburn and District Chamber of Trade, said: “It will be a pity to lose public open space in Cathedral Square.

“It could make it dark and wind-tunnel like.”

Cllr Riley said: “Maple Grove’s decision to press ahead is a good sign. It shows confidence in the regeneration of Blackburn.

“The architects have made design changes easing fears the second block might have a negative effect on Cathedral Square.”

The building is expected to be completed by late 2022.