Blackpool Council has confirmed the details of its £100m project to regenerate the seaside destination’s town centre.
In a statement, the local authority said it is committed to ‘focusing large-scale investment’ in a series of major schemes that will ‘breathe new life’ into the town centre over the next three years.
The projects include a £26m investment in a new, state-of-the-art conference centre next to the Winter Gardens which will open for business in August 2019 attracting visitors throughout the year.
There will also be a new £23m tram extension from the Promenade to Blackpool North Station, creating a link to the newly-electrified rail line and a new 144-bedroom, 4-star Holiday Inn and restaurant that will be sited at the North Station transport interchange on the site of the old Wilko building.
In addition, a £7m Quality Corridors programme will see the refurbishment of Deansgate, Edward Street, Topping Street, Cookson Street and Dickson Road.
‘The face of retailing is changing more extensively and rapidly than anyone can have expected, resulting in increased levels of high street retail vacancy in town and city centres right across the county,’ said council leader, Cllr Simon Blackburn.
‘We are acutely aware of how these challenges are playing out in Blackpool, where the context of our retailing environment is already somewhat volatile because of the seasonal nature of footfall through the town centre,’ added Cllr Blackburn.
‘We are also conscious that a number of well-documented, reputable reports have shown that those town centres that are most dependent on retail premises have suffered most badly and those town centres with less retail, more offices and other forms of leisure activities have fared the best.
‘All of these investments and proposals address that issue and will bring new footfall, spend and life into our town centre. Put together, they will deliver transformational change,’ added the council leader.
The first of the projects, the new Winter Gardens Conference Centre, is now taking shape, with phases 1 and 2 of the structural steelwork in place.
At the end of August, the Winter Gardens switched over to new electricity and gas supplies, increasing capacity and future-proofing the venue.
There are currently 30 live enquiries for new conferences and events in the new facility, with five bookings already confirmed.
The chair of Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal management board, Graham Cowley, added: ‘The economic regeneration of Blackpool has been one of the LEP’s priorities since being established in 2011, and we have worked closely with the council and other partners to bring forward projects which will help drive growth in the town, generate jobs, and attract investment.
‘The Growth Deal Fund in particular has supported the £26m new conference centre being built adjacent to the Winter Gardens complex and has kick-started many of the transport and infrastructure schemes across the resort.
‘This includes the £7m Quality Corridors programme, the tramway extension and the bridge improvement works. In addition Blackpool’s new museum, set to be dedicated to popular entertainment, was supported by the LEP to help secure government funding as part of the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund,’ added Mr Cowley.