Blackpool Central
Blackpool Central is to be constructed on the site of the former train station of the same name. Credit: via Font Comms

Unanimous approval for £300m Blackpool Central 

Dan Whelan

Nikal and Media Invest Entertainment’s leisure scheme can go ahead after the council’s planning committee universally backed the proposal despite objections from nearby Blackpool Pleasure Beach. 

The project 

The £300m Blackpool Central, to be constructed on the site of the former train station of the same name, features three indoor entertainment venues including a 127,000 sq ft flying theatre. 

Other elements of the scheme include: 

  • A 70,000 sq ft public square  
  • A 200-bedroom hotel  
  • A 1,300-space multistorey car park  
  • A heritage quarter – with food hall and aparthotel  
  • Bars and restaurants.

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.   

Blackpool Central Site

The 17-acre site was once earmarked for a super casino. Credit: via planning documents

The Pleasure Beach objects 

While Blackpool Pleasure Beach supports the redevelopment of the 17-acre site, which has been in the offing for more than 20 years, the rival attraction opposed the plan. 

Blackpool Central’s designation as a theme park and the proposed use of mechanical rides put it in direct competition with the Pleasure Beach, according to the company’s planning advisor. 

The advisor said Nikal and Media Invest’s plan posed a “serious threat” to the Pleasure Beach’s existence and that there is no precedent in the UK for two theme parks “happily co-existing” in the same town or city. 

In response, Nikal and Media Invest’s planning consultant Spawforths said the developers had no intention of building a “small indoor version of the Pleasure Beach”. 

Adrian Spawforth, managing director of the consultancy added that the development aims to “help Blackpool provide a more diverse leisure offer to attract more visitors”. 

Blackpool Central MSCP

The car park and heritage quarter will be delivered first. Credit: via Font Comms

The meeting

Yesterday, the developers’ plans went before Blackpool Council’s planning committee. Full planning permission was 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. 

The joint venture asked for outline planning permission for the remainder of the project, including the three indoor theme parks.

Blackpool Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the proposals, prompting committee chair Cllr David Owen to quote Shakespeare’s Julius Caeser.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat; and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” 

He added: “What Brutus said to Cassius almost fits the bill here. We hope the project is a great success and that we have a new visitor attraction in the middle of Blackpool for the delight of our visitors and our own residents. We hope for greater things.”

Blackpool Central Heritage Quarter 2

The heritage quarter is to feature a food hall and hotel. Credit: via Font Comms

Reaction 

Richard Fee, chief executive officer at Nikal, said: “This is a key moment for levelling up Blackpool’s visitor economy post Covid. Blackpool Central will help transform and futureproof the town’s tourism offer, and last night’s approval is an important step forward in our journey.

“We have worked hard to ensure that the scheme will complement Blackpool’s current attractions and wider leisure offer. This approach will help us to secure game-changing benefits for Blackpool – drawing in 600,000 additional visitors a year and boosting annual spend in the local economy by £75m.”

Norbert Reichart, chief executive officer, Media Invest Entertainment, said: “Blackpool is the undisputed entertainment capital of the UK and our scheme will help cement the town as a must-visit year-round destination for generations to come.

“The resurgence of staycations and the UK opening back up to international tourists creates huge opportunities moving forward to attract more visitors and encourage tourists to stay longer on their trips to Blackpool.”

Cllr Lynn Williams, Blackpool Council leader, said: “Yesterday’s decision is a major milestone for this transformational regeneration project, which has been widely anticipated by our residents.

“The development means so much more to our residents than just a new leisure and entertainment destination, as it brings lots of new, varied and skilled year-round job opportunities, extra footfall and revenue to local businesses, and breathes new life into a run down and neglected part of the town.”

Your Comments

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Well done DJ and the team!!

By RST

This looks like a great step forward for Blackpool, with a first class development team behind it. I am sure that the Pleasure Beach will in time realise that as far as things for people to have a good time in and reason to visit, more is almost always better. It will great to see it taking shape.

By Liverpool Fan

Good new for Blackpool. I cant see how the Pleasure Beach would be affected as its a different type of attraction. the new development will also help bring in visitors in the quieter season when the Pleasure Beach is closed.

By Jon P

Absolutely rubbish project for the amount of land. It’s simply going to be a multi storey car park and large concrete area… Nothing else will be built. 1000s jobs what a joke!! Flying theatre.. lol..that’s old technology being currently scrapped by other resorts as they have had it for over 15. years..food hall will consist of a few burger vans… This project was really all about the multi storey car park.. staffed by no one , all pay and display..the rest of the land will be sold off by this developer as not viable to build anything else, but will still have planning permission for several hotels… Don’t be fooled it will never be built

By Paul swim

A much more suitable Shakespeare quote would have been, “To be or not to be is the question,”
“to be is the answer.”

By Roger Goodred

Long awaited for all of this work to bring Blackpool back to what it has always been .the best tourist resort in.the North West can’t wait for work to begin .bring it on

By Julia heaketh

It is an absolute folly. It will never be built.

By Oliver Queen

Really stupid idea. Town is gridlocked with traffic already every single night,add another 600,000 and it won’t move at all. Why not build something that benefits Blackpool residents for once,instead of tourists and giant companies? 1,000 minimum wage jobs created wow

By Dylan

as long as there’s some appreciation for central station in the “heritage area” then I’m satisfied

By redcliffish

Dylan – if you’re not moving in your car then why don’t you consider walking and cycling instead? You’re complaining about traffic congestion as if it’s other people’s problems, whilst contributing to the problem yourself.

By Anonymous