Blackpool Council has sold a 17-acre plot of land at Blackpool Central to a joint venture between Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment, enabling work to start on a large-scale leisure and entertainment masterplan for the area.
Regeneration company Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment signed a deal in 2018 to deliver a £300m mixed-use scheme for the site, including a new visitor attraction featuring the UK’s first “flying theatre”, virtual reality entertainment zone, food hall and other elements.
The parties have completed a deal tipped last September to acquire the site on a 250-year lease, and will now work to deliver three phases of the site in accordance with a masterplan approved in December 2018.
The site currently houses Blackpool’s largest surface car park, the magistrate’s court and a former police station.
The enabling stage of the works will see the development of a 1,300-space multi-storey car park to replace the existing car park. Nikal is preparing to instruct agents to let the car park and said a hybrid outline and part-detailed planning application is expected to be submitted later this year.
The council will continue to operate and take revenue from the majority of the existing car parking spaces on Central, Chapel Street and Bonny Street throughout this enabling phase of development. Once the multi-storey car park opens, the existing surface level car parks will close to make way for construction of the next two phases of development.
Phase one proposes the flying theatre, virtual reality experience centre, Greatest Mysteries-themed multimedia exhibition space, an Adventureland gaming park, alien-themed diner, food hall, events square and 150-bedroom hotel. The entertainment offer for the site is themed according to brands whose intellectual property rights are owned by Media Invest Entertainment.
The second phase includes apartments, food and drink outlets and an additional 250-bedroom hotel. The masterplan is set to take up to nine years to deliver.
The project’s anchor tenant will be a unique state-of-the-art 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 partner, Media Invest Entertainment, owns and controls the global media rights.
Nikal is a privately held limited company that specialises in large-scale mixed-use regeneration schemes on strategically placed brownfield sites across the North West and West Midlands. Its largest project forms part of the HS2 Curzon Birmingham masterplan where the company is halfway thorough the construction of its £500m Exchange Square project.
The Blackpool Central site covers around 17 acres near the train station. The council had previously earmarked the 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 supercasino in Eastlands, although this was never progressed.
DWF Legal Advisors and JLL Property Consultants acted on behalf of the council in this week’s sale.
Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “The agreement offers Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment flexibility around the phrasing programme to ensure the the project can be delivered effectively and viably, while securing the council’s ability to retain revenues from the site for the long-term.
The scheme is expected to create over 1,000 new jobs and attract more than 600,000 new visitors to Blackpool every year, he added.
Place North West is hosting its Lancashire Development Update on 13 February which will give an update on economic activity in Lancashire, the key developments, future sites, and policies shaping the area.