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 Blackpool 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.
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.”