Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has given the go-ahead to an extension of Blackpool’s Tramway, allowing John Sisk & Son to start construction in 2018.
The extension to the network will run between Blackpool North station and North Pier, and a funding package was signed off by the Local Enterprise Partnership earlier this year.
The Government has now granted planning permission and a works order for the scheme. Sisk will start on site next year, with completion planned for April 2019.
The proposed route will leave the existing network at North Pier, crossing the main promenade highway, and will run along Talbot Road with a new stop at Talbot Square, before terminating at Blackpool North.
Sisk was named as main contractor on the project in October.
Around £16m of the project cost will be met by Transport for Lancashire – made up of Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council, and Blackburn with Darwen Council – with the remainder provided by the private sector.
The new terminus will replace the existing Wilkinson’s Building on Talbot Road, which was purchased by the council in April 2016 for £7.8m.
The council plans to replace the building with a new four-star hotel and a tram stop as part of its £31m town centre regeneration scheme.
Part of the project costs include two new trams to cope with extra passenger demand. The extension will be operated by Blackpool Transport Services.
Cllr Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This is excellent news and is a huge step forward in continuing to regenerate the Talbot Gateway, creating more jobs for people in Blackpool and creating a stronger economy for everybody in the town.
“Almost two million journeys go through Blackpool North train station every year and rail journeys to the resort are growing. This extension will not only capitalise on the electrification and growth in rail travel but it will make journeys for residents, commuters and visitors from the train station much easier.
The extension links closely with Muse’s £100m Talbot Gateway development, a 1 million sq ft mixed-use scheme including office, retail and leisure space, which being delivered in partnership with Blackpool Borough Council.
Campbell added: ““The extension will also work as a linchpin at the centre of the second phase of the Talbot Gateway. We have already come so far and the view that meets visitors coming out of the station now is massively improved from what was there in the past.
“This expansion will allow us to build on that even more, changing the landscape of the gateway in to Blackpool, while at the same time putting more local people into work and creating even better economic conditions to attract business investment.”