Blackpool Central
The project could attract an extra 600,000 visitors a year to Blackpool. Credit: via Font Comms

JV’s £300m Blackpool Central tipped for approval 

Dan Whelan

The local authority said Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment’s leisure scheme, which features three indoor entertainment venues including a flying theatre, would “improve perceptions of the resort and act as a catalyst for future investment”. 

The £300m scheme has been recommended for approval by Blackpool Council next Tuesday.

The scheme

Blackpool Central includes: 

    • A 127,000 sq ft indoor theme park featuring a flying theatre 
    • A 70,000 sq ft public square 
    • Two smaller indoor theme parks  
    • A 200-bedroom hotel 
    • A 1,300-space multistorey car park 
    • A heritage quarter – with food hall and aparthotel 
    • Bars and restaurants 

Full planning permission is sought for the seven-storey car park, required to unlock the rest of the site for redevelopment, and heritage quarter. 

These elements are to be delivered first and Dutch firm Ballast Nedam is lined up to build the car park, as first revealed by Place North West. 

Blackpool Central MSCP

Ballast Nedam is lined up to deliver the car park. Credit: via Font Comms

The joint venture is asking for outline planning permission for the remainder of the project.

Nikal and Media Invest predict  map pinBlackpool Central could create around 1,000 new jobs, attract an estimated 600,000 additional visitors each year, and boost annual spend in the town by around £75m.  

The site

The development would be constructed on a site currently occupied by Blackpool Magistrates’ court and a large surface level car park. The plot was formerly occupied by Blackpool Central Station, which closed in 1964. 

Blackpool Council had previously earmarked the site for a super-casino, putting forward a bid in 2006 to the Labour Government at the time. However, the town lost out to Manchester’s bid, which had proposed building a super-casino in Eastlands, although this was never progressed. 

“Efforts to secure development on the site have been ongoing for over twenty years without success,” a report to the council’s planning committee says. 

Boosting Blackpool

Blackpool planning officers concede that the scheme “would not fully meet the aspirations of planning policy” but that it would “nevertheless deliver a range of significant benefits to the resort in terms of increased visitor numbers and economic output and prosperity”. 

Blackpool Central Aerial Shot

The site has been earmarked for redevelopment for more than 20 years. Credit: via consultation documents

A study by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in 2019 found that Blackpool was home to eight out of the 10 most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. 

It is hoped that the scheme could provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.

“The development has the potential to improve perceptions of the resort and act as a catalyst for future investment,” officers said. 

Overall, the proposal is anticipated to provide a “compelling new reason to visit Blackpool”, according to the council.

A complementary offer

Blackpool Central would be located in the heart of an area with a high concentration of existing leisure attractions. But rather than competing with them, the council believes the arrival of Nikal’s scheme will complement what is already there. 

“Rather than discouraging investment in existing attractions, the proposal may force existing operators to invest in order to remain competitive,” officers said. 

The entire project, which will eventually see Blackpool Magistrates’ court relocate, is scheduled to complete in the second quarter of 2029, as outlined by Spawforths, the masterplanner and architect for the project. 

Blackpool Central Heritage Quarter

The Heritage Quarter is one of the first elements to be delivered. Credit: via Font Comms

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here