Contractors are preparing the town centre site in Blackpool for the construction of a new tramway interchange at Blackpool North Station, underpass and 144-bedroom Holiday Inn hotel.
Piling works are complete and the steel framework for the hotel and Marco Pierre White restaurant within the interchange building is due to be erected in May, as the next stage of work gets underway slightly later than intended due to the impact of Covid-19.
The second phase of the £100m Talbot Gateway regeneration project being led by Blackpool Council with its partner Muse Developments was originally due to start last April but began in September. The work has so far seen the demolition of the former Wilko store and car park at the site by main contractor Robertson, which was expected to take around five months to complete.
The first phase of Talbot Gateway involved the completion of a 125,000 sq ft Sainsbury’s supermarket close to Blackpool North and a 120,000 sq ft office development, No1 Bickerstaffe Square, to be occupied by Blackpool Council.
Work on this second phase is expected to take around two years to complete and the four-star Holiday Inn, designed by architecture studio Leach Rhodes Walker, is targeted to open in 2022, the council said. The Marco Pierre White restaurant is to sit alongside several new retail outlets.
The interchange building will also include a new underpass intended to provide a bright, modern entrance into Blackpool North train station. Meanwhile, tramway contractor Sisk has started on site at nearby Talbot Road to complete the new £23.4m tram link to the station.
The existing tramway is to be further extended from the corner of Dickson Road and Talbot Road, through the construction site to a new North Station terminus, to enable more trams to operate on the network and to provide more frequent services.
Sisk’s contract is to last 26 weeks from mid-May, during which time the High Street will be closed and a one-way system put in place for deliveries managed from an access point on Lord Street. In addition, overhead electric lines and new signals are due to be installed along Talbot Road from the terminus area to the Promenade. This work will take place at night and last for four weeks starting in July.
“It’s great to see the construction of the new hotel, Marco Pierre White restaurant and underpass starting to take shape and we’re looking forward to seeing the steelwork go up – a significant next step in the build programme,” said Cllr Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council.
“We’re also a step closer to the new tramway extension being finalised, which will bring greater capacity, more frequent services and better connectivity around town. This whole development will play a significant part in the overall economic recovery of Blackpool and help us build back after Covid.”
Councillors unanimously voted in March to approve plans for phase three of the project, which include a 215,000 sq ft office earmarked to house up to 2,500 civil servants
Talbot Gateway is part of Blackpool Council’s wider £1bn regeneration of the town, which also includes the Houndshill extension, Blackpool Central, the Winter Gardens conference centre and the Airport Enterprise Zone.
Elsewhere in the town, Blackpool Council is progressing plans to develop The Edge, an incubation office space within the council-owned Stanley Buildings on Caunce Street. The project is earmarked to receive £4.5m of Government funding from Blackpool’s Town Deal and match funding from the council of £1.8m.