Blackpool moves to progress £300m leisure scheme
The council is preparing to exercise compulsory purchase powers to acquire 10 acres off Central Drive to pave the way for developer Nikal’s Blackpool Central entertainment complex.
Last year, Blackpool Council signed an exclusivity agreement with developer Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment to redevelop the site into a £300m leisure venue featuring the UK’s first “flying theatre”.
The development would include a number of other attractions as well as apartments, a multistorey car park, and two hotels totalling 400 bedrooms.
The project’s anchor tenant will be a Chariots of The Gods Entertainment Park, an indoor theme and adventure park inspired by the 1968 bestselling book, The Chariots of The Gods, to which Media Invest Entertainment owns and controls the global media rights.
In order for the project to start on site, the council needs to acquire the land needed to deliver the first three phases of the project.
The land that falls within the proposed compulsory purchase order is bounded to the north by New Bonny Street, to the west by Bonny Street, the south by Chapel Street, and the east by Central Drive and is earmarked to house the majority of the scheme.
Phase one features the flying theatre, a virtual reality experience centre, Greatest Mysteries-themed multimedia exhibition space, an Adventureland gaming park, alien-themed diner, food hall, events square and a 150-bedroom hotel.
The second phase includes apartments, food and drink outlets and an additional 250-bedroom hotel. The multistorey car park forms part of the third phase.
The council is in negotiations with various parties that have interests in the land, including telecommunications firm BT, energy company Norweb and public toilet operator Danfo UK, as well as the leaseholders of private properties on Central Drive.
At present, the majority of the site, previously occupied by the former Blackpool Central station which closed in 1964, is given over to a surface car park but also includes numbers 13 to 39 Central Drive, a former cinema, a pub, and several retail units.
“To date it has not been possible to acquire all these interests and the council is satisfied that there is a compelling case in the public interest for resorting to powers of compulsory acquisition. Otherwise the comprehensive redevelopment will not be able to be completed within a reasonable timeframe,” the council said.
The wider development site also includes the law courts on Chapel Street, subject to leases held by Her Majesty Justice’s Service, and several units that front the promenade including Madame Tussauds, SeaLife Blackpool and Golden Mile Amusements.
This part of the site will form phases three and four of the development and the buildings in question are not subject to the compulsory purchase order.
Speaking to Place North West in July, Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council’s head of regeneration, said he anticipated a planning application would be submitted within the next 12 months with a view to starting on site in the same timeframe.
The masterplan is expected to take around nine years to deliver.
The council had previously earmarked the Blackpool Central site for a super-casino, putting forward a bid in 2006 to the Labour Government at the time. However, the town lost out to Manchester’s bid, which had proposed building a super-casino in Eastlands, although this was never progressed.