Southport Townscape Aerial
The council has mooted a waterside conference and events centre as part of the plans

Southport’s £50m Town Deal bid revealed

Sarah Townsend

Proposals for a waterside events centre, business incubator space and a regeneration of Lord Street, the town’s central retail boulevard, are included in a funding submission to the Government to revive the Merseyside coastal town.

Sefton Council has asked for £50m from the Government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund aimed at rejuvenating town centres across England.

The bid, support by multidisciplinary consultancy Turley, is part of Sefton’s £400m investment in Southport and is projected to create 1,250 additional jobs.

Many of the proposals were set out in Sefton’s 2050 Southport Vision, published in the summer, and providing a strategy to regenerate the town over the next few decades.

Among the plans already underway are a revamp of Southport Market, for which work began this week, and the creation of the £40m Southport Cove water park and surfing lake, with associated hospitality and leisure facilities, announced last month.

Those two projects have already secured funding from various sources. The £50m Town Deal bid proposes:

  • a new convention and events centre on the site of the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, which closed earlier this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The space would house a 1,200-seat auditorium, exhibition halls, a café and co-working space. The proposal was contained in the 2050 Southport Vision and is aimed at attracting new types of events, such as the e-sports industry, to the North West
  • a regeneration of Lord Street, to restore the town’s grand boulevard and shopping area to its former glory.
  • business incubator space housed in one of Southport’s former shopping arcades, providing space in particular for the town’s digital and creative businesses. A larger ‘Enterprise Store’ would ‘ be developed in a former department store building to provide scale-up space for growing businesses
  • an immersive water, light and sound show on Marine Lake
  • a revamp of Southport Pleasureland, partnering with a “globally recognised brand” to create a themed indoor attraction open to visitors all year round, according to Sefton Council
Southport Public Realm Ld St

The town’s central boulevard would be refreshed under the plans

The plans are intended to “transform the fortunes” of the coastal town.

Dwayne Johnson, chief executive of Sefton Council, said: “The Town Deal process has raised the profile of Southport with investors and we can already see the positive effect it is having.

“For example, the Southport Cove resort with its £40m of private investment…will add value to our Town Deal plan and complement our proposed projects, such as the convention and events centre and Marine Lake experience.”

Richard Laming, senior director at Turley, added: “This plan signals a clear intent to the government and other investors that Southport has a clear vision for the future.

“The projects are unique and investable, and each have the ability to leverage significant regeneration benefits to accelerate the region’s recovery from Covid-19.”

A decision on the funding is expected in early 2021 and further details of each project are to be released in the coming weeks, according to the council.

Rob Fletcher, chair of Southport’s Town Board, which oversaw the preparation of the bid, said: “Our plan has been informed by the biggest conversation that the town has ever had about its future [a public consultation on the 2050 Southport Vision in July], and is designed to provide opportunities for current and future generations.”

Southport Fountains Still 12

An immersive water, light and sound show is envisaged for Marine Lake

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This would be an incredible boost for Southport’s sport and leisure and local businesses. One must ensure the old Victorian heritage of Southport is retained and restored. Special attention must be given to the materials used. Southport should be given a recognised status. Not restoring Lords Streets road surface to the original pink surface is a prime example and change the iconic mile long street forever. Covering in general tarmac is a prime example of cutting corners and went against the wishes of the residents and local councillors. One question; what are Sefton Councils proposals for eleviating the already overwhelmed traffic system?

By Suzanne Williams

Although they dont give a size, I would think as a convention centre it’s going to be far too small. The artist’s impression makes it look like a small cinema/bowling alley and some shops.
There are over 800 major events/conferences/exhibition/trade shows in the UK each year but there are hundreds of thousands of smaller business events (wedding shows and so on). More than 80% of those are trade or consumer shows. These, however, tend to be one-day events, so there is very little spin-off trade for the hotels and restaurants.
This scheme sounds like a conference centre, which would help out other areas around the town, but you do have both Liverpool and Manchester down the road and another 10,000 locations for organisers to pick from. It would need to be larger than Harrogate for it to attract serious conferences and trade shows. I am afraid if, by regenerating Lord Street, they mean putting more street furniture, flower pots in and signs up – it’ll take much more than that to bring it back around. When will councils learn that putting a lick of paint on things is for the day the Queen visits, turning a town around for the next 100 years takes more than that.

By Billy