Blackpool Central Heritage Quarter Sketch
A 'heritage quarter' would be created under the plans, by bringing several listed buildings back into use

First Blackpool Central application pushed to this summer

Sarah Townsend

Developers Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment aim to submit plans for the first phase of their £300m leisure destination off the town’s Golden Mile by the middle of this year, having launched a consultation on the project today.

The developers had initially said they intended to lodge a planning application with Blackpool Council by April of this year. The first phase of the Blackpool Central masterplan proposes a seven-storey, 1,300 space multistorey car park, to free up land for future phases and ensure sufficient parking provision for the town’s visitors and residents.

The first phase would also seek to restore several existing heritage buildings to create a thriving ‘Heritage Quarter’ as part of the wider map pinBlackpool Central development. According to the plans, the grade two-listed former King Edward VII picture house would become an artisan food hall with outdoor space for al fresco dining. The locally listed King Edward VII pub would be refurbished into a new pub and hotel, while the King Edward VII apartment building would be renovated into a high-quality aparthotel.

The development plot is the site of the former Blackpool Central train station close to Central Pier, just off the Golden Mile and around 300 metres from Blackpool Tower. It is bounded by Central Drive, Bonny Street, New Bonny Street and Chapel Street. As the first phase, the developers want approval from Blackpool Council to remediate the site, as well as outline approval for future phases of the development.

Once complete, the wider Blackpool Central development is planned to house a new indoor theme park, including a flying theatre, family rides, the latest immersive virtual reality experience and a rooftop bar.

The scheme also features a public square for live events including music concerts, light shows, sporting events and markets, as well as new hotels and restaurants. It is forecast to attract an additional 600,000 visitors to Blackpool each year, boosting annual spend in the town by £75m annually on current figures, according to the developers.

Blackpool Central is a key part of the Blackpool Town Deal – the council’s vision to drive the post-Covid regeneration of the town, supported by £39.5m of funding from the Government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund.

Nikal and Media Invest are working closely with the local council to unlock the redevelopment opportunity, which they have touted as the largest single investment in Blackpool in more than a century.

This week, they launched a consultation on the first phase of the development, seeking feedback from the public and other stakeholders on the plans. The consultation will run until Wednesday 26 May.

BLackpool Central Multistorey Car Park Phase 1

The first application would seek consent for a seven-storey car park with 1,300 spaces

Nikal chairman Richard Fee said: “We’re looking to create a world-class leisure destination that will add to Blackpool’s current offer and attract hundreds of thousands of new visitors every year.

“This planning application for the enabling phase will allow us to deliver the new multistorey car park and the Heritage Quarter, where we’re planning to create an artisan food hall. We want to understand and listen to what the local community, local businesses and visitors to Blackpool think of this game-changing opportunity. Please get in touch and help us define and shape the scheme.”

And Media Invest’s chief executive Norbert Reichart added: “The indoor theme park will provide all-year, all-weather family entertainment. With a mix of attractions, using some of the world’s latest technology, it’s set to become one of the UK’s most exciting destinations. We’re looking forward to hearing what people think.”

Once the world’s busiest train station, Blackpool Central Railway Station closed in 1964 and has since been used for car parking and occasionally to host outdoor events such as the annual switch-on off Blackpool Illuminations. The site has been used for various purposes over the years, including as a police station and law courts. The law courts are to be relocated by Blackpool Council in an unrelated project.

Cllr Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Blackpool Central is a huge investment and a game-changer for our town. We have been working closely with the developers for several years to bring this project to fruition and look forward to hearing what our community has to say…as we move forward to the next key stage of the planned development.

“[The project] has the potential to provide a significant boost to our economy, increase footfall in the area to the benefit of local shops, guest houses, hotels and businesses, and bring steady, year-round jobs to the people of Blackpool.”

Blackpool Central Aerial Shot

Aerial map showing the Blackpool Central development site south-west of the town centre

Your Comments

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Please do something with the area anything would be an improvement. These plans seem like a good idea.

By Anon

Nice one!

There were real fears these buildings would all be flattened so I am glad to see their retention and incorporation.

By Observer

Anything to improve Central drive as a whole would be a benefit to Blackpool, not a good look as you’re coming into the main area.

By Anon

You definitely need to do something to create around the Rigby Road /Central drive area. Very off putting to visitors.

By Landlady

Well overdue for this neglected area

By Anon

Sounds good, flatten Cenral Drive from Rigby Road to Town Centre would be another phase to consider.

By David Hammond

That’s what we’re talking about,

By DaveDaly

Sounds good, its nice that you are leaving some of the period buildings. Well done hope it all happens.

By Anonymous

If Nikal’s Altair ‘development’ in Altrincham is anything to go by, Blackpool needs to prepare for many years of a derelict site. Periodical grand announcements interspersed with years of inactivity. A perfectly decent pub was demolished to be replaced by glamorous hoardings…that’s pretty much the sum of all activity. Even the hoardings blew down.

By Ed

Got to be a vast improvement on that part of town and the chance for lots of new jobs for Blackpool residents. Heritage plans are a good idea, saving some local history for future generations. I hope all the people displaced will be offered decent alternatives in properties that are offered for them to live in.

By George Birchall

I was born and lived in and near Blackpool for 70 years so I,ve seen a few architectural disasters in and around Blackpool over the years .
This proposal is an opportunity to raise the profile so it,s important to get this right. I,ve worked in the Revoe area for many years and have seen a close community who care about improving things for families there.
If this project could be extended to include Central Drive and possibly regenerate some of the properties that have been derelict for many years it would improve the quality of people,s lives in one of the oldest and interesting parts of Blackpool.

By Sandgrownan

Fantastic plan I was born in Blackpool and encourage this proposed development. Good luck to all who are involved. My family built a lot of early Blackpool so it’s brilliant people are coming forward to keep our town alive and of course create new jobs.

By Jenny jay

as long as the other attractions happen and blackpool isnt left with another car park!

By anon

Shame nothings being done to Central Drive itself, most of the shop units need replacing and more residential flats esp accessible ones for us disabled

By Andrew Bill Marley

If trams are coming up from the front to the old Wilko building then something needs to happen to the dreadful state of the shops that currently operate there. We have multiple charity shops/kebab shops/fast food shops/tattoo shops/cheap and nasty shops – where is the class? How about planting some trees? i would not want to start a holiday looking at this lot!

By Mrs Murdoch