Work starts on £73m Marine Lake Events Centre
Hoardings are now in place as main contractor Kier readies for the demolition of the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, which will pave the way for the new entertainment facility.
The Marine Lakes Event Centre will be a £73m complex with a 1,200-seat theatre, 2,400-capacity conference space, and a series of offices, meeting rooms, restaurants, and production facilities. It is the dream child of Sefton Council and was the banner project of the council’s successful £37.5m Town Deal award.
MLEC will ultimately be built on the site of the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre. However, before demolition can take place, Kier is removing several heritage assets from the theatre.
The razing of the building itself will take a few months, according to Sefton Council. The local authority hopes to open the MLEC in 2026.
Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and skills, welcomed the news that work was underway.
“Getting contractors on site is the start of our fantastic, shared vision for the future of Southport’s waterfront and tourism economy becoming a reality,” she said.
MLEC is expected to bring more than 500,000 visitors to Southport each year when it is complete. That equates to an £18m boost for the local economy, Sefton Council said.
Those kinds of figures will make MLEC “transformational for the town”, Atkinson said.
“They support our key objectives of providing more reasons to visit, to stay, to stay longer, and to do so all year round,” she said. “And all of these will mean the creation of quality employment and career opportunities in the area.”
In addition to the Town Deal, funding for MLEC came from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Sefton Council. The two contributed £20m and £19.7m, respectively.
Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram shared his support for the project.
“Southport holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in our city region and beyond,” he said. “While we’re incredibly proud of the town’s history and heritage, I firmly believe that Southport’s best days still lie ahead.
“Building on its legacy as a tourist town, I want to ensure that Southport can continue to thrive and attract visitors for many years to come,” Rotheram continued.
“Thanks to devolution, we’re committing significant investments into projects like to the Marine Lake Events Centre to help get Southport on the up again.”
Marine Lake Events Centre has been designed by AFL Architects. Gardiner & Theobald is the project manager for the scheme.
The project team also includes civil engineer AECOM, transport consultant WSP, noise and air quality consultant Hydrock, arboricultural consultant Tyler Grange, and planning consultant CBRE.
Planning permission was secured earlier this year.
You can learn more about the MLEC by searching application reference number DC/2022/01391 on Sefton Council’s planning portal.