Houndshill Extension
The extension of Houndshill shopping centre is among schemes put forward by the council

Blackpool readies £25m Future High Streets bid

Dan Whelan

The council aims to submit a bid to the £1bn Government fund and has outlined 11 schemes it would help fund, including the extension of Houndshill Shopping Centre and the redevelopment of the Old Post Office into a hotel.

Blackpool is one of 100 towns that have been shortlisted across the UK to receive funding from the Future High Streets fund intended to help rejuvenate the high street.  

The fund launched in 2018 as part of the £6.5bn Towns Fund, designed initially to support and fund 50 local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future. 

In August 2019, the scheme was expanded to include 50 more areas, Blackpool being one of them. 

The council hopes the funding will help to address some of the challenges the town faces, including high vacancy levels and reduced footfall.  

The 11 schemes that would benefit from the funding, according to the council, are:  

  • Houndshill extension, including a multiscreen Imax-style cinema, two restaurants and a relocated Wilko store 
  • Redevelopment of the Old Post Office into a hotel 
  • Refurbishment of Abingdon Street Market 
  • Acquisition of a property on King Street to bring forward an office development  
  • Acquisition and refurbishment of three vacant retail units to create a hub for small businesses  
  • Improvements to Adelaide Street Transport Hub and access improvements 
  • Developing an innovation partnership working with a specialist consumer retail investment and innovation firm to pilot digital retail technologies in high street businesses to improve understanding of customers 
  • The upgrading of digital infrastructure across the town
  • The development of a monitoring system to better understand visitor footfall, how people move around and the places they visit, to help businesses adapt and identify new opportunities 
  • Commissioning of a study to assess the possibility of extending the Blackpool to Fleetwood railway line 
  • The launch of a gift card and loyalty programme to stimulate the local economy 

The 11 schemes amount to £25m of Future High Streets Funding with public co-funding of £18.4m and private funding of £16.1m.  

Peter Cole, independent chair of Blackpool’s Future High Streets Fund board, said: “Our plans are ambitious but ambition and innovation is what keeps Blackpool strong, resilient and willing to evolve.” 

“The additional funding and help from government is desperately needed for our high street, now more than ever, as we start to recover from the current pandemic.” 

The final bid for Blackpool will be submitted this month and a decision is anticipated this autumn. 

Blackpool has also put two schemes forward in response to the Government’s call for ‘shovel-ready’ projects and its £600m pledge to bring them forward. Those projects are the extension of Houndshill and the revamp of Abingdon Street Market. 

 

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So good to see real ideas and investment going into Blackpool, but without addressing the significant social problems there and business flight the town will not be able to sustain this growth into any sense of longer term prosperity.

By Desseisor