Views sought on £65m ‘perception-changing’ Blackpool project
Spanning 190,000 sq ft, the Multiversity higher education facility aims to upskill the town’s population and improve employment prospects.
Blackpool Council is working to assemble the land required to deliver the project and has now launched a consultation on the Multiversity proposals ahead of the submission of an outline planning application before the end of the year.
Planning consultant Avison Young is leading the consultation, which will run until 6 November.
Blackpool Council secured £40m of the cash needed to deliver the £65m project from the government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The council’s bid said the Multiversity would “act as a beacon to promote higher-level skills, engage employers in curriculum co-design and change perceptions of the town”.
At present, there is a skills and productivity gap between Blackpool and the rest of the country – 28.8% of Blackpool residents hold an NVQ4+ qualification, compared to 43.5% in Great Britain, according to the bid.
The Multiversity would seek to close this gap by upskilling residents, offering courses in automation, mobility, artificial intelligence, data, population ageing, and sustainability.
As well as improving the job prospects of local residents, the project would regenerate an area currently occupied by a “significant area of poor-quality residential stock within the heart of Blackpool”.
To unlock the project, Blackpool Council needs to take control of an area around Cookson Street, Milbourne Street, George Street, and Grosvenor Street, close to the town’s main train station.
There is a “compelling case in the public interest” for compulsory acquisition of properties off according to a recent report to Blackpool Council’s executive.
The proposals form the latest phase of the wider regeneration of Talbot Gateway, a project that has already seen the delivery of a 120,000 sq ft office, a 60,000 sq ft Sainsbury’s, and a 600-space multi-storey car park.
Construction of a 144-bedroom Holdiay Inn is due to wrap up next spring, while the creation of a 200,000 sq ft hub for the Department for Work and Pensions is underway.
Designed by Hawkins\Brown, the Multiversity would be leased by the council to Blackpool & Fylde College from April 2026.
It is hoped that the facility will be in operation for the 2026/27 academic year, once the college has relocated from its existing Park Road Campus.