A statement released by Blackpool Council this morning said that it would not be proceeding with plans for a museum celebrating the seaside town’s history “in its current form”, due to the high project cost, despite a chance at winning a £15m Heritage Lottery grant.
“Unfortunately the scale of the matched funding target is too great at a time when the council is under severe financial pressure”, the council said.
“Despite this decision, the council still has the ambition to build on the excellent work done to date. Although the ambition remains to build a museum in Blackpool, it is likely to be over a different scope and time frame than originally envisaged.”
In 2014 £1.24m was awarded from the Heritage Lottery Fund to look at the feasibility of turning part of the Winter Gardens into a museum, with an expectation that the project would then gain a £15m second phase of funding.
However, the council has now said that the large costs of redeveloping the grade two-listed building would result in an £8m gap, which was previously going to be plugged through fundraising.
Instead, plans for a different museum elsewhere in the town will continue to be explored, “with a view to submitting new funding bids in future years so that the town can feel still the economic benefits from hosting its first museum”.
A change of use application by architect Buttress was submitted in March, with plans to convert the Pavilion, Horseshoe and Fly Tower areas of the Winter Gardens.