Developer Nikal is targeting autumn 2019 for the submission of a planning application for the first phase of the £300m Blackpool Central, as negotiations progress with the council over the acquisition of the necessary land.
In December, Blackpool Council revealed plans for a 1.3m sq ft leisure-led scheme on a 17-acre site around Blackpool Central station, set to be delivered by Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment. The development is centred on a plot bounded by Bonny Street, Chapel Street and Central Drive.
In the first phase, the masterplan includes the delivery of an immersive “flying theatre”, a virtual reality entertainment zone, an indoor family entertainment centre, and a multimedia exhibition space, as well as restaurants, a food hall, and an 1,000-space multi-storey car park. A new 150-bed hotel is also planned. The first phase is due to complete in 2024.
This will be followed by a second phase featuring apartments, further food and drink outlets, an additional hotel of 250 bedrooms, and public open space. Future phases have also been outlined for the site fronting the Promenade, which could include more leisure uses and apartments.
The council is in the process of acquiring all the land included in the masterplan area, and Nikal will then make an offer to the council for the land, which council advisor JLL will consider.
A meeting of the council’s executive next week is being asked to approve the use of £1.9m to “protect the council’s interests”, funding ongoing security, rates and utility bills for the buildings it is acquiring, including the King Edward buildings and former police station.
While the Lancashire Constabulary vacated the site at the start of this year, the council is experiencing issues with relocation the Courts & Tribunals Service which operates from an abutting building. According to a report to the executive, relocation of the courts would cost up to £13m so “unlikely to occur in the short term”, although a site is being sought somewhere in the town. The police station could be demolished to allow the site to be brought forward for development, but unless the courts are relocated it could impact the delivery of the third phase.
Overall, there could be four phases delivered over an eight-year period. According to the council “the overall length of the programme and current uncertainty in the market has given rise to the concerns of agreeing a land sale price so far in advance of completion”. The acquisition of land for the later phases is likely to be based on a minimum guaranteed land value offered by the developer, with an agreement to carry out a market assessment around the time of phase two or three of the development.
Funding for Blackpool Central, which has been given a development value of £300m, is set to be sought by Nikal from external investors, in packages rather than one large-scale investment.
The scheme is due to start on site in 2020. Ahead of the planning submission of the application later this year, a public consultation on the designs will be held in March.