Bernstein orders review of Blackpool masterplan

Manchester City Council chief executive, Sir Howard Bernstein, in his new role as chairman of ReBlackpool, has commissioned a review of the town's regeneration masterplan to help inform future resource decisions.

GVA Grimley, KPMG and Arup have been appointed to conduct the review and are expected to deliver initial results this month with a final report published by the end of the year.

Sir Howard told Place North West: "It's about understanding the priorities and the sequencing of those priorities to better inform decision-making and ensure resources are best allocated to have the maximum impact going forward. It is absolutely not about ripping up existing plans and starting again."

Sir Howard joined ReBlackpool at a time when the URC and council are attempting to accelerate delivery of the town's ambitious masterplan.

Muse Developments is close to signing its long-awaited development agreement with Blackpool council over the 25-acre Talbot Gateway. The first phases of a £73m revamp of the seafront and sea defences have been completed. Modus's extended Hounds Hill shopping centre opened in the summer.

Ian Hassall, director of land and property at ReBlackpool, said improving gateways into the town and from the centre to the sea were likely to be among priorities going forward.

Hassall said the organisation is considering capitalising on the downturn by raising a public asset base backed by the council and North West Development Agency. He added: "We are getting approaches from private developers and landlords in the city with distressed sites that they can no longer make stack up. It is also likely that as schemes stall there may be the possibility of NWDA grants being redirected.

"Unlike some towns and cities in the region there is little public ownership in central Blackpool and this could be an opportunity for us to intervene and help unlock some key sites."

English Partnerships is also planning to intervene in Blackpool's housing stock, where high densities of benefit dependency inflate house prices and restrict the first time buyer market.

Blackpool and East Manchester competed, and both ultimately lost out, in the contest to host the super-casino. The Government subsequently formed task forces for both, to ensure regeneration maintains momentum. Blackpool is an associate member of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities.

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