Blackpool is the new North West place for business says Nick Gerrard, growth and prosperity programme director at Blackpool Council. A bold statement, but the tourist town is changing for the better and in some parts beyond all recognition.
Blackpool needs little introduction with its sweeping promenade, the world famous Blackpool Tower, three Victorian Piers and the Illuminations. Retaining its title as the UK’s most popular seaside destination with more than 18 million visits a year and a tourist economy of £1.58bn, what is much less known is an extensive investment and redevelopment programme that’s underway to revitalise the town, boost the economy and create jobs.
This was vital before the massive economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic and as we look to the future and drive forward Blackpool’s economic recovery, its importance has only grown. Blackpool Council remains fully committed to further investment and development and 2020/21 will remain pivotal for some key development sites across the town – during the lockdown the team has continued to work hard to keep momentum going in very challenging circumstances to ensure we hit the ground running when we come out of the current crisis.
The £1bn+ Growth & Prosperity programme is about building long-term resilience, driving forward a wide range of improvements that aim to give visitors new reasons to visit the resort and residents a renewed pride in their town. The activity is twofold, a broad range of strategic regeneration projects to achieve economic growth and opportunity for residents, visitors and to attract investment, and a property investment programme to increase income generation across the town, enabling the council to support the delivery of a wide range of services for Blackpool residents.
Blackpool Council is supporting some ambitious plans that will transform the town with already over £750m spent on a number of key investments. Pivotal schemes include Talbot Gateway, Blackpool Central and Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone with supporting investment including:
- New conference and exhibition centre, £26m extension of the Winter Gardens catering for over 7,000 delegates
- Sands Venue Resort Hotel, the resort’s first 5* £20m hotel
- Showtown, £13m project and the resort’s first museum
- £7.8m spent on the Quality Corridor Scheme to improve shops, streets and public realm spaces
- Public realm improvements to the promenade, strengthening sea defence systems and 17km of new tramway at a cost of £285m
Phase one of this high profile development was completed in 2014, worth £80m and so far has included the successful delivery of 1.1msq ft of development, BREEAM excellent Grade A offices anchored by a flagship 120,000 sq ft Sainsbury’s foodstore, 40,000 sq ft retail/leisure space, 17,000 sq ft fitness centre, award-winning 650-space refurbished multi-storey car park, £6m highways works, new roundabout, upgrades to Blackpool North train station and new interchange and attractive public realm. Phase two of Talbot Gateway is already underway to improve transport links with a £23.4m tramway extension connecting directly with the train station via a new underpass, the promenade and visitor leisure attractions. A 144-bedroom 4-star Holiday Inn and restaurant will be built following the relocation of the Wilko store, employing more than 100 people.
In December 2018 Blackpool announced a £300m development that will sit in the heart of Blackpool representing the biggest single investment in Blackpool for more than a century. Inspired by the Chariot of the Gods, the site will feature a range of indoor attractions including the UK’s first flying theatre, virtual reality experience, new hotels, restaurants, food market, event square, apartments and multi-storey parking. The land sale of the current site is based on a 250-year agreement between Blackpool Council and developer Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment. The legal agreement has now been signed and work can begin on the enabling phase of the project. A planning application for a new car park, the first important stage of works on the 17-acre site, is being drafted. The development is expected to attract 600,000 additional visitors a year with a combined annual spend of £75m. The project will also create 1,000 jobs for people in Blackpool.
Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone
Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone is one of the largest in the UK and over its 25-year lifespan it will transform the Fylde Coast’s economic base, positioning itself as a premier business location in the North West.
Blackpool Council, as the accountable body and the majority landowner, has allocated £28.8m over the first four years to deliver essential infrastructure to help unlock sites, kick start development and attract investment to meet increasing occupier demand. This ambitious project will host 5,000 new jobs and attract in excess of £300m private sector investment over its lifetime. A detailed planning application is being prepared for phase one development including improved sports facilities, commercial development and new highways and the first element to relocate and improve the sports facilities at the eastern gateway has been lodged. The site has already attracted investment with eight new developments completed, 73 new companies brought to the site more than 1,520 jobs created.
@blackpool_biz | The Team at Blackpool – The Place for Business