As an agreement nears on deals to trigger Talbot Gateway’s second phase, Blackpool Council has issued a timeline for delivery of its major projects, as it seeks to position the town as a multi-purpose destination.
Blackpool’s £26m Winter Gardens Conference Centre next to the Winter Gardens is on track for an opening date of August 2019, with phase one and two of the structural steelwork in place.
There are currently 30 live enquiries for conferences and events in the new facility, with five bookings already confirmed, the council said.
The £23m extension of the tram network from the Promenade to Blackpool North station is also live, with all road closures completed before the end of February 2019 with the first passengers able to ride up to Talbot Gateway before the end of 2020.
Much of the work around the station hinges around the relocation of Wilko, with the existing store set to be demolished, a project that will clear the way for the tram project’s completion and the development of a Holiday Inn and restaurant, which is due to open before Christmas 2021.
Over the next few weeks, the council said, the final touches will be put on “a complex set of agreements” that will result in the relocation of Wilko, the completion of the tramway extension and the development of the new Imax cinema and branded restaurant, the Blackpool Museum and two four and five-star hotels.
Wilko is to open in a store on Tower Street in late autumn 2019, with an Imax cinema set to open in autumn 2020. The council is also supporting the development of the town’s first five-star hotel, at Sands Venue – a £20m project due to open at Christmas 2019.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, leader of the council, said: “The face of retailing is changing more extensively and rapidly than anyone can have expected, resulting in increased levels of high street retail vacancy – we are acutely aware of how these challenges are playing out in Blackpool.
“We are also conscious that a number of reports have shown that those town centres that are most dependent on retail premises have suffered most badly and those town centres with less retail, more offices and other forms of leisure activities have fared the best.
“All of these investments and proposals address that issue and will bring new footfall, spend and life into our town centre. Put together, they will deliver transformational change.”
Mike Horner of Muse Developments, the developer leading Talbot Gateway said: “We are looking forward to commencing work on Talbot Gateway phase two with the construction of the new Holiday Inn hotel and restaurant on the Wilko site to further enhance the Blackpool hospitality offer and also improve the arrival experience from the train station.”